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Tag: Google

Google Tips Off Users about FBI Investigation into Some Users

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

Google alerted dozens of people or more that the search engine giant was ordered by the FBI to release user data as part of an unspecified investigation.

The news site Motherboard indicated that the “unusual notice appears to be related” to a hacking tool called LuminosityLink. 

Several people reported receiving the email and posted the information on popular social media platforms and HackForums, a popular source of information about hacking and cybersecurity.

“Google received and responded to legal process issue by Federal Bureau of Investigation (Eastern District of Kentucky) compelling the release of information related to your Google account,” the email read, according to people who said they received it.

A lawyer who specializes in cybercrimes said it appears Google was eventually given permission to notify users.

“It looks to me like the court initially ordered Google not to disclose the existence of the info demand, so Google was legally prohibited from notifying the user. Then the nondisclosure order was lifted, so Google notified the user. There’s nothing unusual about that per se,” the lawyer, Marcia Hoffman, told Motherboard in an online chat. “It’s common when law enforcement is seeking info during an ongoing investigation and doesn’t want to tip off the target(s).”

Google Releases Eight FBI Requests for Customer Data After Gag Order Lifted

google1By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Google published redacted versions of a secret eight FBI requests for customer data after a gag order was lifted.

“In our continued effort to increase transparency around government demands for user data, today we begin to make available to the public the National Security Letters (NSLs) we have received where, either through litigation or legislation, we have been freed of nondisclosure obligations,” Richard Salgado, Google’s director of law enforcement and information security policy wrote in a blog post on Tuesday, Intercept reports.

Major tech companies have receive several hundred thousand subpoenas a year, but rarely do they go public.

The records released by Google show the type of information the FBI is seeking and demonstrate the company’s history of fighting the subpoenas in court.

Intercept wrote:

For a long time, companies weren’t sure whether or not they could even approach an attorney to discuss the letters, let alone challenge them in court, though the FBI explicitly mentions these rights in current letters.

The use of national security letters comes with a long history of controversy and alleged abuse. Government watchdogs, technology executives, and civil libertarians have criticized their use as being overbroad, and impinging on First Amendment protected speech, while limiting people’s rights to seek redress. The Department of Justice inspector general issued several scathing reports over the years, reprimanding the FBI and suggesting reforms.

The FBI is now legally required to review the gag orders on the letters, either three years after the date they were sent, or at the conclusion of the relevant investigation. Still, the public has only seen a small handful of those letters in full.

Numerous Tech Companies Join Apple’s Fight with FBI Over Phone Encryption

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple became the first big tech company to openly criticize the FBI’s attempts to force companies to unlock phones to help investigators get access to information.

But the company has been joined by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and a host of others who filed court briefs on Thursday to support Apple’s argument that it does not have to unlock phones for law enforcement, the New York Times reports. 

About 40 companies and organizations filed more than a dozen briefs with the Federal Court for the District Central California to challenge the government’s case.

They argue about the infringement of free speech, the importance of encryption and government overreach.

“These companies, which are often fierce competitors, have joined together to voice concern about the attempted government overreach in this case, which threatens the integrity and security of their products and privacy rights of consumers in general,” said Neal Katyal, a lawyer at Hogan Lovells for the tech companies and a former acting solicitor general of the United States.

FBI Abandons Plans to Require ‘Backdoors’ on All Consumer Tecnhology

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has backed off plans to require all consumer technology to have a so-called backdoor so that law enforcement can spy on suspects, the Business Insider reports. 

On Wednesday, FBI general counsel James Baker said the bureau has abandoned the “magical thinking” that consumer technology will be outfitted with backdoor access.

“It’s tempting to try to engage in magical thinking and hope that the amazing technology sector we have in the United States can come up with some solution,” Baker said. “Maybe that’s just a bridge too far. Maybe that is scientifically and mathematically not possible.”

The FBI persistence on the issue caused strained relationships with tech companies, like Apply, Google and Facebook, all of whom were worried about privacy rights and a backdoor for hackers.

FBI: Apple And Google Are Assisting Terrorists with Privacy Tecnhology

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Are Apple and Google the bad guys?

A senior FBI official told a Congressional committee that the technology giants are aiding terrorists by offering users encrypted communications, a senior FBI officials told the House Homeland Security Committee, The Register reports.

Michael Steinbach, assistant director in the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, said the federal government should bar the companies from offering encrypted communication, a move that IT experts and even some members of Congress said would make the technology vulnerable to hackers.

Steinbach said terrorists are eluding detection using the encryption technology.

“Privacy above all other things, including safety and freedom from terrorism, is not where we want to go,” Steinbach said. “We’re not looking at going through a back door or being nefarious.”

 Other Stories of Interest


Google Says Surveillance Proposal Would Allow FBI to Spy on Anyone Worldwide

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Google is fighting attempts by the Justice Department to get permission for the FBI to search and seize digital data in what the search engine giant said would make it possible for the “hacking of any facility” in the world, The Guardian reports.

The Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules that is considering the proposal received a sharply worded letter from Google that warns the new FBI powers would raise “monumental and highly complex constitutional, legal and geopolitical concerns that should be left to Congress to decide.”

The proposed changes would allow the FBI to remotely search computers from anywhere in the world, “giving the US government unfettered global access to vast amounts of private information,” The Guardian wrote.

The Advisory Committee on Criminal Rules is a powerful body of mostly judges who have authority over federal rules governing the FBI.

FBI to Allow Companies to Reveal When They Receive National Security Letters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Companies like Google and Microsoft have long expressed frustration with the inability to disclose when they’ve received a secretive compliance order from the FBI seeking records.

Under a new FBI policy, companies will be able to disclose the “national security letters,” but only “at the earlier of three years after the opening of a fully predicated investigation or the investigation’s close,” The Wall Street Journal reports.

Until now, the FBI has been able to obtain telephone, banking and Internet company records without a court order, and the company was legally prevented from disclosing bureau’s order.

The changes are part of President Obama’s call to reform surveillance practices and data collection.

Tech Companies Urge Congress to Shed More Light on Secret Information Requests

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com 

More than two dozen companies and numerous trade groups are endorsing bills that would open more light on the government’s secret information requests, the Verge.com reports.

The businesses and trade groups are showing their support for bills that would allow them to reveal when they receive requests for national security-related data.

Among those who signed the letter to Congressional members are Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Those same companies have been forced to turn over information without the ability to disclose it.

The argument is that barring the disclosure of information to users violates free speech rights.