In response to Edward Snowden’s leaks regarding the NSA’s data-collecting practices last year, prominent tech companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft requested the ability to transparently publish the federal government’s data collection practices to affected users. After several months without a response, the companies have all decided to update their privacy policies in order to disclose federal data requests to specific users anyways.
Although this announcement is a victory for citizens concerned about the way their privacy is handled on the Internet, the companies are still forced to comply with several federal rules. According to Engadget, Google’s updated policy claims it will retain data if there’s an “imminent risk” of harm to a potential crime victim. Similarly, Apple’s new policy claims it will notify customers whose data has been requested by the federal government in “most cases.”
Although these new policies are somewhat vague, they do signify that tech corporations are fighting back against the federal government secretive data collection practices.
According to the Washington Post, the U.S. Department of Justice is concerned about these new policies.
“These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine,” said department spokesperson Peter Carr.
All of the tech companies specified that they would not notify users if they receive gag orders from government authorities. Several types of requests, such as those issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, must be kept secret in accordance wtih the law.