Incident happened almost three years ago but gag order on Google kept the search giant silent
Google handed over data belonging to WikiLeaks to the US Government, but was not allowed to tell the group for almost three years.
WikiLeaks has called the move a “serious violation of the privacy and journalist rights of WikiLeaks staff”.
Data included company emails
Google was made to hand over the data, which included company emails, under a search warrant issued by a federal judge in 2012. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve 2014 when Google wrote to WikiLeaks revealing what had happened.
Google said that it had complied with the Justice Department order to hand over the data, which also included the IP addresses of three WikiLeaks staff.
The request was part of the investigation into WikiLeaks, which was launched in 2010 related to the US government cables leaked by Chelsea Manning.
But in a letter to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, WikiLeaks has said that Google has deprived the firm of their ability to protect their rights to “privacy, association and freedom from illegal searches”.
When WikiLeaks was finally notified, over two and a half years after the incident, Google said that a gag order had been imposed, preventing the search giant from alerting WikiLeaks. But it is now apparent the gag order was at some point lifted.
The three members of staff whose data was handed over to the US government were Kristinn Hrafnsson, a WikiLeaks spokesperson, Joseph Farrell, a senior editor, and Sarah Harrison, a British citizen.
The FBI also requested the data relevant to the internet accounts of the three staff, data which included time and duration of online activities as well as bank account numbers.
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