December 06, 2023

Wyden Seeks Answers from Justice Department On Alleged Surveillance of Apple and Google Mobile Push Notifications

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked the Department of Justice to allow Apple and Google to be more transparent about alleged surveillance of mobile push notifications. 

Wyden began investigating possible surveillance of push notification records after receiving a tip that foreign governments had requested such records from Google and Apple. According to the companies, the information they provided Wyden about this practice is restricted from public release by the U.S. government.

“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 wrote, in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland. “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.”

Push notifications are alerts sent by phone apps to users' smartphones. These alerts pass through a digital post office run by the phone operating system provider - overwhelmingly Apple or Google. Because of that structure, the two companies have visibility into how their customers use apps and could be compelled to provide this information to U.S. or foreign governments.

Read the full letter to the Justice Department here.