Apple and other companies are updating their policies to “expand routine notification of users about government data seizures,” the Washington Post reports. Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are also taking similar steps, with the report noting the companies would move forward with user notifications about data demands, excepting specific requests by a judge or another legal authority. “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,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
While Apple and the other companies argue that users have a right to know about such requests, the Justice Department believes these new policies will threaten investigations and endanger potential victims. Investigators will be forced to choose between withdrawing data requests, letting users be notified of such requests, or seeking gag orders or search warrants, which take a longer period of time. Not all requests fall under these new policies — any requests approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court are kept secret, as are any national security letters issued by the FBI.