According to the Wall Street Journal, Major tech firms like Google, Microsoft and Apple are highlighting privacy, and said that they will be notifying their users whose information has been asked for by the government.
This move by the major tech firms will irk the federal government officials, because to them, the move could potentially harm investigations. It will also increase the already growing divide between Washington and Silicon Valley. The government has long asked these major Internet companies to voluntarily keep the subpoenas secret, so as to not draw suspicion or alerts would be criminals.
With the National Security Administration issue about their surveillance tactics, many leaders of the technology industry, like Google?s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg, have criticized how the NSA does things and they are not in support of their means.
Of course, if things are of a large scope, like cases of national security, these new policies won?t be likely to have a direct effect, because government agencies can request these types of information through National Security Letters, that makes companies unable to disclose to their users. It most likely won?t affect search warrants that are required by federal investigators as well.
Privacy advocates have hailed these moves by major tech companies saying that it?s a step towards a needed check on government authority.
Twitter and WordPress have already started implementing this change and have already notified some of their users of subpoenas. These two companies received subpoenas from the government on two different occasions, about wanting to identify users who had made comments about some politicians on the popular blogging platforms.
Twitter and WordPress then notified the users before turning over their identities. The users then fought the subpoena in federal court. For the WordPress case, the government withdrew the request. While in the Twitter case, the user in question agreed to reveal his identity to officials, and also agreed to meet with investigators privately. No charges were filed and both these users were represented by Arthur Spitzer, a lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union.
These changes have a lot of impact for users as well as the companies, and there could be some changes coming to companies? policies to further address these things.
Photo Source: Google official website