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Friday, May 02, 2014
Apple, Facebook, Others To Notify Users of Government Data Demands

Major U.S. technology companies have ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators' demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure.

Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft are updating their privacy policies to expand the types of disclosure notifications they give individual users about how often and when the government requests their data.

As The Washington Post reports, tech companies will ignore the instructions stamped on the fronts of subpoenas urging them not to alert subjects about data requests.

The Justice Department disagrees, saying in a statement that new industry policies threaten investigations and put potential crime victims in greater peril.

The changing tech company policies do not affect data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which are automatically kept secret by law. National security letters, which are administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI for national security investigations, also carry binding gag orders.

Twitter became perhaps the first major tech company to routinely notify users when investigators collected data, yet few others followed at first. Google already notified users of government data requests. Lawyers at Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are working on their own revisions.

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