With billions of users up in arms about privacy issues, this was a major wake up for technology companies who then had to pick sides. Do we stick behind the government on this or all go under because our users don’t trust us anymore.
One must ask themself why the 360 turn around. Before these companies were willing to work with the government and did so behind the backs of those keeping the companies in business. If Edward Snowden didn’t leak the information about what the NSA was doing, we may all be still in the dark.
We here at Examiner, have been following this controversial topic, dealing with privacy issues of billions of social media site accountholders. Further news has come out via Washington Post on May 1, 2014, about major technology companies like Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google banning together against NSA subpoenas for users data. U.S. tech companies plan to ignore instructions urging them not to alert accountholders about data requests, industry lawyers say.
Yahoo was one of the first along with Twitter, “When Yahoo Inc. receives a request for user data from a law enforcement agency, we inform the agency that we reach out to our users to let them know of the government request,” the spokesperson said. “We noted that law enforcement agencies frequently choose to withdraw their request once we inform them of our notification policy.”
Tech companies are all updating their policies to expand routine notifications of users about government data request. However, the Justice Department disagrees. “New industry policies threaten investigations, risk endangering lives, risking destruction of evidence or intimidate witnesses", department spokesman Peter Carr said, citing a case in which early disclosure put at risk a cooperative witness in a case.
Keep in mind National Security letters, which is an administrative subpoena issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, carry binding gag orders along with data requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
With tech companies, updating their policies it will be a hard sell but the move may win over accountholders; that is if companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft follow suit. No one wants to be the one not changing his or her policies.
The general public understands the need to investigate claims but feels the government has gone too far. Right now there are only two parties at the table (politics) government agencies and (money) cooperate agencies. The people want a voice as well, one that will stick up for their rights. Until that happens tech companies are walking a very thin line.