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Justice Department Urged to Address Transparency Issues in Push Notification Data Surveillance

  • U.S. Senator Ron Wyden raises concerns about Apple and Google facilitating foreign government surveillance via push notifications.
  • Senator Wyden urges the Justice Department to review policies hindering transparency regarding push notification data.
  • A California search warrant highlights how push notification demands can be used for surveillance in criminal cases.

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) has expressed worries to the Justice Department, cautioning about foreign governments secretly monitoring Apple and Google phone users through push notifications. 

Wyden, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, believes that since these notifications go through Apple and Google's servers, these companies have the ability to facilitate government surveillance of users' app activities.

The senator is calling on the Justice Department to review or change policies that are blocking this level of openness. Although the letter doesn't mention which foreign governments requested push notification data, Reuters, citing a source, reports that both U.S. and foreign government agencies have requested metadata from push notifications. 

Shane Bauer, a representative from Apple, mentioned in an email that the government has forbidden Apple from disclosing details about the issue. However, Bauer emphasized that Apple is dedicated to being transparent.

Matt Bryant, a spokesperson from Google, showed support for Wyden's efforts to inform users about these requests. Bryant also mentioned that Google was the initial major company to release a public transparency report regarding government requests for user data.

Edited by Shruti Thapa