Google says it will give user information to law enforcement with no warrant in cases of an “emergency.”
CNET reported this week that Google would give police access to a user’s Nest video footage without a warrant in “emergency” situations. The company’s Terms of Service (TOS) paint a concerning picture of the way it values user privacy.
"If we reasonably believe that we can prevent someone from dying or from suffering serious physical harm, we may provide information to a government agency -- for example, in the case of bomb threats, school shootings, kidnappings, suicide prevention and missing persons cases," Google's TOS page reads. "We still consider these requests in light of applicable laws and our policies."
The policy says it would notify a user if it receives a warrantless request from law enforcement for their data unless an “emergency” exists.
"We might not give notice in the case of emergencies, such as threats to a child's safety or threats to someone's life, in which case we'll provide notice if we learn that the emergency has passed," the policy states.
The company stated that its TOS complies with the law.
"Consistent with our terms of service and this site, we do make limited disclosures in the context of emergencies," a Nest spokesperson told CNET. "This legal basis for doing so is set forth in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which provides that a provider like Google may disclose information to law enforcement without a subpoena or a warrant 'if the provider, in good faith, believes that an emergency involving danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires disclosure without delay of communications relating to the emergency.'"
Nest further told CNET that it “reserves the right” to provide law enforcement with user data without a warrant during “an ongoing emergency,” but that it has yet to do so.
"If there is an ongoing emergency where getting Nest data would be critical to addressing the problem, we are, per the TOS, allowed to send that data to authorities," the spokesperson said.
Earlier in the month, NewsBusters reported that Amazon’s Ring doorbell system complied with law enforcement’s warrantless data requests several times this year.
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