Privacy fears as government renews law that allows it to take data on suspects from Apple and Google cloud servers
Campaigners raised fears that a renewed piece of American legislation allows federal agencies to spy on foreign nationals without warning by hacking into cloud-based servers.
Now because of the renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), the U.S. government granted itself the right to spy on anyone using the internet storage facilities provided by American companies.
This move means that any non-American who opts to store data on the cloud services that are used by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple, opens themselves up to investigation by the federal authorities.
At risk: All data stored in network clouds, used by companies like Apple, can now be accessed by the U.S. government
Cloud computing allows internet users to store their information and data in an network server as opposed to in a physical memory stick or tangible location on their hard drive or on their smartphones.
FISA is nothing new: it was first put into place under President George W. Bush in 2008, and it was quietly renewed in December of 2012 under President Obama's purview.
The legislation allows a wide swath of the federal government- including the CIA, the FBI, and the National Security Agency- to look at any information they would like that is saved on cloud servers.
One of the most shocking portions of the legislation is the fact that the officials do not need to use the guise of a threat to national security as a way to justify their snooping.
Round one: The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was initially signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008 (pictured) but was renewed by President Obama in December 2012
They are able to look into foreign individuals' data for purely political reasons as well.
A report produced about the topic stresses that it is 'much graver risk to EU data sovereignty than other laws hitherto considered by EU policy-makers'.
Slate quoted Caspar Bowden, who co-wrote the report which is now being examined by the European Union, as saying that the legislation has been so gravely ignored by European government officials.
'It's like putting a mind control drug in the water supply, which only affects non-Americans,' he said.
For now, privacy advocates appear to be the only ones up in arms about the issue.
Google responded to requests made by The Independent, saying: 'It is possible for the US government (and European governments) to access certain types of data via their law enforcement agencies. We think this kind of access to data merits serious discussion and more transparency.'
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