Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon is seeking information from Apple and Google regarding government surveillance through smartphones, specifically push notification records.
Wyden is concerned about the use of these records in investigations, and the companies have indicated that they are restricted from publicly releasing information about this practice.
He is calling for transparency and for the companies to be able to reveal the number of demands they receive and notify customers about requests for their data. (Trending: US State Unveils Controversial ‘Gender Neutral’ Laws)
Unidentified governments are surveilling smartphone users via their apps' push notifications, Senator Ron Wyden warned https://t.co/3NdpNlSHOk
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 7, 2023
“In the spring of 2022, my office received a tip that government agencies in foreign countries were demanding smartphone “push” notification records from Google and Apple,” Wyden wrote.
“My staff have been investigating this tip for the past year, which included contacting Apple and Google,” he added.
The companies cited the federal government when they did not comply.”
“In response to that query, the companies told my staff that information about this practice is restricted from public release by the government.”
“Because Apple and Google deliver push notification data, they can be secretly compelled by governments to hand over this information.”
The companies “are in a unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps,” he pressed.
“Apple and Google should be permitted to be transparent about the legal demands they receive, particularly from foreign governments, just as the companies regularly notify users about other types of government demands for data,” Wyden said.
“These companies should be permitted to generally reveal whether they have been compelled to facilitate this surveillance practice, to publish aggregate statistics about the number of demands they receive, and unless temporarily gagged by a court, to notify specific customers about demands for their data,” he added.
Both Apple and Google support Wyden’s call for changing the rules that block the release of this information.
“In this case, the federal government prohibited us from sharing any information,” Apple said.
“Now that this method has become public we are updating our transparency reporting to detail these kinds of requests.”