US Senator Claims Governments Spying on Apple, Google Users

Image copyright: Flickr [via Wikimedia Commons]

The Facts

  • US Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Wednesday that unidentified governments are spying on smartphone users via their push notifications — the alerts that notify users of incoming text messages, emails, and news, among other things. He further stated that these governments were demanding Google and Apple to provide them with such user data.

  • Push notifications aren't sent by individual apps but rather facilitated by a smartphone's operating provider, Wyden warned in a letter to the US Justice Department (DOJ), which he says means Apple and Google are in a "unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps." This data includes which app received the notification and whose Apple or Google account it was sent to.

The Spin

Pro-establishment narrative

This report confirms what many already know: Big Tech collects every ping received on users' phones. According to Wyden, this information is then shared with lawmakers both accountable and unaccountable to US law — something even the app owners can't do anything about. These large companies may promise to keep users' information secure, but evidence shows that they cannot be trusted to do so.

Establishment-critical narrative

While Big Tech companies may seem like indomitable giants that have the power to do whatever they want, the fact is that they are beholden to federal regulation just like any other business or individual. Despite Apple and Google's best efforts to keep their users' data secure, they are bound to comply with government requests — it's not Big Tech that should be villainized but the governments that are actually behind this concerning privacy violation.

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