Google Told WikiLeaks about Data Disclosure after Half a YearAdded: Saturday, February 28th, 2015
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The search giant is facing more questions about its handling of its users’ private data after it turned out that Google waited 6 months before telling WikiLeaks about passing its emails and other data belonging to its employees to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In the beginning of 2015, it was disclosed thatthe tech giant had cooperated with FBI after Google was served with secret warrants demanding to hand over all emails and IP addresses relating to WikiLeaksemployees. The targeted users were only notified of this fact on 23 December 2014.
In the meantime, the initial warrants were issued three years ago, and Google claimed it could not notify WikiLeaks because of a gagging order imposed by a federal judge which prohibited Google from discussing the matter. But it turned out that those warrants were in fact unsealed by the US district court in Virginia in May 2014 – 6 months before WikiLeaks was notified. In fact, the whistle blowers have long suspected that Google decided to inform them in the week of Christmas in the hope to bury this fact in a slow news cycle.
As for Google, the company claimed that it normally tells people about government requests for their data, but not when it is gagged by a court order, like in this particular case. Goggle admitted that it had challenged many orders relating to WikiLeaks that in turn had led to disclosures to the individuals concerned. The company has also pushed to unseal all the documents related to the investigation and continues to argue for surveillance reform to become more transparent.
In response, WikiLeaks claims that its employees should have been given notice of the warrants after they were unsealed in May 2014. Now the company is trying to figure out what caused that 6-month delay in notifying of those search warrants. In the meantime, it is clear why they were issued in the first place, because they are known to have come from a court in the eastern district of Virginia,where a grand jury was convened as part of a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks. This was the investigation on the leaking of secret US government documents by the Army soldier Chelsea Manning.
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Saturday, February 28th, 2015
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