Google Receiving Government Requests to Unlock Android Phones
Apple wasn't the only company getting such requests. An ACLU inquiry found Google also got similar inquiries, according to a report.Google also has been facing inquiries from the U.S. government to help unlock Android cellphones as part of criminal investigations, mirroring government actions that have sought similar help from Apple in unlocking its iPhones. The Google requests were found through an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which discovered that Apple and Google have been asked by the government 63 times for help in unlocking cellphone data, according to a March 30 story by The Wall Street Journal. The requests with Google and Apple were made by the government as it sought court orders under a 1789 law, the All Writs Act, to force the companies to help unlock the phones, the story reported. The results of those requests is not known, based on the ACLU investigation. "However, federal prosecutors have said until late last year, when Apple began resisting such efforts, it was routine for judges to approve such requests from federal prosecutors," the story continued. "And those requests aren't a new phenomenon—the cases stretch back to 2008."
The Google data requests were revealed on the heels of the very public legal fight that recently occurred between the Department of Justice (DoJ), the FBI and Apple as the government sought to compel Apple to unlock the iPhone that belonged to one of the terrorists who killed 14 people and injured 22 others in an attack in San Bernardino, Calif., last December. The government wanted Apple's help in accessing and reading the encrypted data on the iPhone, but Apple refused, citing privacy laws.