WikiLeaks has hit out at Google having claimed that the search giant handed over emails, IP addresses and practically all digital communications relating to three of its employees to the FBI, after receiving secret warrants back in March 2012.
The whistleblowing platform was only made aware of the handover on Christmas Eve following expiry of a gag order imposed by the US Justice Department.
Writing directly to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, WikiLeaks said it was ‘astonished and disturbed’ by the lengthy delay in notification and demanding answers as to how such a situation could have arisen.
Google’s late admission that it had handed over data relating to WikiLeaks investigations editor Sarah Harrison, spokesperson Kristinn Hafnsson and senior editor Joseph Farrell caught the organisation off guard.
Harrison, a British citizen, told the Guardian: “The invasion of privacy into a British journalist’s personal email address. Neither Google nor the US government are living up to their own laws or rhetoric in privacy or press protections”.
Amongst the data collected by the FBI were draft and deleted emails, their source and destination as well as the date and time at which they were sent. Even message size and length information was passed along.
Justifying its actions Google said: “When we receive a subpoena or court order, we check to see if it meets both the letter and the spirit of the law before complying. And if it doesn’t we can object or ask that the request is narrowed. We have a track record of advocating on behalf of our users.”