The world’s largest technology companies are looking to notify users about government requests for information, as the industry looks to distance itself from concerns about surveillance.
The move will give users time to challenge the requests in court, reports the Washington Post. But prosecutors worry that the move might undermine cases by giving criminals time to destroy evidence.
Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Google are all changing their policies to routinely tell users if their data is being seized, unless they are gagged by a judge or other authority. Users and companies are increasingly worried about the collection of data after Edward Snowden’s revelations of the National Security Agencies hacking, experts told the paper.
Companies are thought to be updating their policies in advance of the publication of an influential report by online rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Its annual report ranks companies on their privacy and transparency policies, and has prompted many tech companies to review their policies.
Google has a similar policy of notifying users in place, which was updated this week, with exemptions for imminent harm or criminal activity. “We notify users about legal demands when appropriate, unless prohibited by law or court order,” the search giant said in the new document.
Apple will update its policy later this month. “Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told the Washington Post.
Microsoft and Facebook are also understood to be making the changes.
Twitter has been seen as leading the charge in routinely notifying users about data collection.
Companies are unable to alert users to requests from the US’s Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and or the FBI, which are kept secret by law.