Is Google taking a stand?

According to Wired’s Threat Level blog, Google is taking a rather tougher stance towards the US federal government when it comes to requests for cloud-stored data for investigations. The company is now, it says, asking for judicial warrants from state organisations. As Wired points out, even though this might seem ethically sound, it is dubious legal ground as the US Electronic Privacy Communications Act allows the federal government access to such documents without a warrant. And yet, no court challenge has yet been made by the government to Google’s stance.

So what is going on here? Is Google serious about taking on ‘the feds’ in favour of users? Is this new pro-user line by Google merely contingent and once something ‘really important’ is demanded, the company would cave in? Is there some other kind of backroom deal? Is Google actually being rather cynical because the company knows that the NSA can access everything they have anyway (and probably by arrangement – after all, the NSA helped Google out a lot in its battle with China’s authorities)? I suspect there is much more to this apparently casual revelation…

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

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