US Senator Exposes Government Surveillance Tactics on Smartphone Users

US Senator Demands Transparency from Apple and Google over Smartphone Surveillance

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon has reached out to Attorney General Merrick Garland to address concerns about the federal government’s surveillance of Americans through their smartphones. Wyden’s letter to Garland highlights the need for transparency and accountability from tech giants Apple and Google.

The Washington Post revealed that the federal government has been using push notifications to spy on Americans. These push notifications create a token each time a user receives a message and are used to map out the user’s contacts. This method was reportedly used to investigate participants in the January 6, 2021, protests and the subsequent incursion at the Capitol.

Wyden’s letter to Garland explains that he has been investigating the issue since receiving a tip in the spring of 2022. He expressed particular concern over foreign governments’ access to smartphone push notification records, which Apple and Google have not been transparent about due to restrictions imposed by the government.

Apple and Google have been restricted from publicly disclosing information about government demands for push notification data. Wyden argues that the companies should be allowed to disclose when they have been compelled to facilitate surveillance practices and to inform specific customers about demands for their data.

Both Apple and Google have issued statements supporting Wyden’s call for transparency. Apple has updated its transparency reporting to include information about these types of requests, while Google has expressed its commitment to keeping users informed about government surveillance.

Wyden’s efforts to hold Apple and Google accountable for their compliance with government surveillance requests reflect a growing concern over the invasion of privacy and the need for transparency in the tech industry.

In light of these developments, the pressure is on the federal government and tech companies to increase transparency and protect the privacy of smartphone users. The debate over surveillance practices and data privacy is likely to continue as lawmakers, tech companies, and advocates work to find a balance between national security and individual rights.


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