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.
Google’s TOS page states, “If we have reason to believe that we could prevent someone dying or from suffering severe physical harm, then we might provide information” We still review these requests under the terms of relevant laws and 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.
The policy says that “We may not notify in the event of an emergency, such as threats or dangers to the safety and/or life of a child, but we will provide notice if the emergency is over.”
According to the company, its TOS is in compliance with law.
CNET spoke with a Nest spokesperson who said that “Consistently with our terms and this site we do make limited disclosures within the context of emergency situations.” The Electronic Communications Privacy Act provides a legal foundation for this disclosure. “If the provider believes there is a danger of serious injury to anyone or death, the information may be disclosed to law enforcement.
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.
According to the spokesperson, “If there’s an ongoing emergency that would require Nest data in order to solve the problem, we are allowed, per the TOS to transmit this data to authorities.”
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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