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Apple, Facebook and Microsoft will inform users of data requests

Apple, Facebook and Microsoft are ready to empower users with more information regarding secret data demands in the shape of a new notification system that still won’t inform users when the agencies such as the National Security Agency request data.

The notification system will cover various police requests for email records and other online data that won’t be private unless a gagging order is approved by a court.

“Later this month, Apple will update its policies so that in most cases when law enforcement requests personal information about a customer, the customer will receive a notification from Apple,” company spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told the Washington Post, with the same publication citing Microsoft and Facebook sources as stating that policy changes are afoot.

Related: EFF anoints Twitter with data privacy crown, slams Apple and MySpace

The change in policies won’t affect data requests that have been approved by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that are automatically made secret. Additionally national security letters, which are also known as administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI, will carry the same binding gagging orders.

“These risks of endangering life, risking destruction of evidence, or allowing suspects to flee or intimidate witnesses are not merely hypothetical, but unfortunately routine,” stated Justice Department spokesperson Peter Carr when talking of cases that were affected by early disclosure.

News of Apple, Facebook and Microsoft changing policies comes just days in advance of the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s latest “Who Has Your Back?” report that ranks the internet’s top 18 companies when it comes to privacy.

Past versions have levelled heavy criticism at the likes of Apple and Yahoo for privacy and transparency policies whereas Twitter has regularly come out on top in its ranking by earning stars across all six categories it ranks.

Image Credit: Flickr (Branden Flasch)