US authorities can access your iCloud data without a warrant

By , Jan 30, 2013

ipad icloud settings

Cloud computing has really taken off in recent years as a cheap, flexible way for folks to store their documents and data. Apple’s iCloud service, for example, has garnered more than 250 million users in just a little over a year.

But while we’re all busy uploading our lives to the cloud, it’s worth mentioning that it’s not totally secure from prying eyes. A recently renewed Surveillance Act gives US authorities permission to access your data without a warrant…

It’s known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, and it was first introduced (quietly) in 2008 during the end of the Bush administration. And its renewal in December of last year has a lot of folks asking questions.

UK-based outlet The Independent reports:

“the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allow US government agencies open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies. Quietly introduced during the dying days of President George W Bush’s administration in 2008, the amendments were renewed over Christmas 2012…

…Caspar Bowden, who served as Chief Privacy Adviser to Microsoft Europe for nine years until 2011, told The Independent: “What this legislation means is that the US has been able to mine any foreign data in US Clouds since 2008, and nobody noticed.”

Yeah, you read that right. The Act specifically says that any data stored by non-American citizens on cloud servers located here in the US is accessible by various US agencies, including the FBI and CIA, without a warrant or other legal red tape.

And this doesn’t just go for iCloud. DropBox, Google, Amazon and several other companies keep their cloud data stored on servers around the US. Is this a reason to panic or stop using cloud services? No. But is it creepy to think about? Yes.

Thoughts?

  • Share:
  • Follow:
  • http://twitter.com/mgalicki Mike Galicki

    Yup, people are up in arms about clip size reductions or gun registration yet no one is marching in the street over FISA that both Bush and Obama have green-lighted

    • Obsidian71

      That’s because the typical American is a sloth that turns on the boob tube watches the news and gets fed whatever the networks want to dish without regard for the ramifications to progeny.

    • Damian W

      well gun issue is probably more serious than accessing your cloud storage. As long as you are not a criminal you have nothing to worry about.

      • Yan Kar

        that happened in 1937 in USSR, as long as you are not a criminal… they made every1 criminal. There are no free lunches, you can justify everything. What is legal today tomorrow may be the opposite. Look at the unlocking the phones for example. Its always starts innocents , but there was not a single service that would not abuse the power.

      • Damian W

        we cant be really surprised about the fact that someone can access our files from some cloud service. After all, we are keeping these files on someone’s server.

        Lets face it, the only privacy you can get is the one that has nothing to do with network. Use for this separate harddrives and keep it in your house.

        It is strange that there is a law that abuses our privacy, but we can get around it.

      • Yan Kar

        i totally agree on that one and i don’t use any clouds except some pictures from dropbox. But, i would say company’s has to make ti clear to customers that cloud can be used by government if need it.

      • Damian W

        i am the same, i keep pictures and school stuff on it. nothing personal. I would have to be retarded. However, iOS automatically tries to sync all our personal info to icloud which sometimes bugs me.

      • steiney

        Do you mean in reference to the gun legislation or cloud storage legislation?

      • Damian W

        Yes, the gun legislation. I believe it is a more serious crime to carry freely your weapon than accessing clouds storage and abusing privacy.

      • steiney

        I’m still confused. Are you now saying it’s worse for a law abiding citizen to carry a gun with them than for the government to access someone’s cloud storage without a warrant?

      • Damian W

        dahhhh….and you don’t???

      • steiney

        No, I strongly feel that every law abiding citizen should be allowed to carry any kind of weapon they want. The criminals will always be able to get a hold of weapons if they want (or make them), and when guns are illegal, then the good guys will not be able to defend themselves against the bad guys. By making guns illegal, you’re giving the bad guys all the power.

      • Damian W

        good for you and all these kids who got murdered at schools

      • steiney

        Yeah, they are bad guys that got a hold of guns and did bad things with them. If someone in one of those schools (a good guy) would have had a gun on them, they could have shot and killed those scumbags and saved a lot of innocent lives. How dare someone want to protect themselves and other innocent, law abiding citizens. The nerve! The unmitigated nerve!

      • Damian W

        dude no bad guys in any other country go to school to shoot innocent children. And these bad guys who did it were kids too, because USA provides easy access to guns. Of course there are some exception where similar situation happened like in Canada, Montreal.

        But, if guns were not legally distributed to all abiding citizens than there would be definitely less crime. And don’t give me a talk about defending from bad guys. I never had a gun and never needed to defend myself with a gun. I have lived in 2 countries, Poland and Canada, and did not have a single problem with guns. WHy? Because there is none, nobody need this shit.

      • steiney

        Well you’re wrong there. Most other countries have way higher violence and murder rates. You just being fed a bunch of BS by the media. Try watching the BBC or other media outside of America. And school shootings happen all the time in other countries. You just don’t hear about because you’re in America. You even admit it happens in other countries right after you make the statement that it doesn’t. And the kids in America that easily got a hold of guns to shoot up a school could have just as easily made explosives with ingredients from Walmart or Home Depot and killed even more people.

        “But if guns were not legally distributed to all abidiing citizens then there would be definitely less crime.” How? If you’re committing a crime with a gun, then you’re not a law abiding citizen!

        You’re lucky you’ve never needed to defend yourself. So am I. But if/when the times comes someday, and you don’t have a gun, you’re going to be sorely disappointed while you sit there watching a gang of thugs rape your wife, children, etc. Think about how that would feel, and how much you’d wish you were able to stop them.

        Yeah, I’m sure in Poland and Canada, no criminals have guns. That makes sense. I’m sure all the bad guys are like, “Okay, let’s go rape and murder people and break into houses and steal, but let’s not use any guns.” Sure. That sounds realistic.

      • Damian W

        I said there are single exception when it happened in other countries. But it did not happened multiple times in a short span like in USA.

        I am pretty sure if these kids did not have easy access to guns they would not even bother to make explosive from walmart, Probably they were to dumb to come up with it anyway.

        Well criminals in most cases dont really go and randomly attack a school of kids.

        What happens in USA is that a bunch of psychos have easy access to guns. These psychos hold some grudge against schools or something and seek a revenge. You see, criminals are not always psychos. For example, psychos in poland and canada don’t carry a gun. Sure, the real criminal does have a gun not matter what country he is from. However, USA have a double headache, because you need to worry about criminals and psychos.

      • steiney

        And I’m saying you’re wrong about the single exception. And if someone wants to kill a bunch of people, they’re going to kill a bunch of people. I would argue that in most cases, it’s easier for a person under 18 to make homemade explosives than get a hold of a gun. And it’s easier to kill a lot of people at once with an explosive than even a machine gun. And now you’re speculating about the intelligence level of every kid how has ever shot one or more people at a school? Geez. I’d say at least some of them were pretty smart to be able to plan everything out with so much detail. Remember, in at least a couple cases, these were nerds that were tired of being harassed. Nerds are typically, smart, weak types.

      • Damian W

        I can plan it out just by playing Max Payne, and Call of Duty. And i dont want to question their intelligence but most people dont really know much about making explosives. Therefore, it is less likely they would make explosives. Having a gun and shooting is just much easier method.

      • steiney

        Not one or the other? You have to play both to plan out a school shooting?

      • Damian W

        i can play any shooting game to get a good idea how to plan real shooting.

      • steiney

        I just googled “how to make homemade explosives” and got 170,000 results. The only way it could be easier is if Google delivered the ingredients to your house and built the bomb for you.

      • Damian W

        the point is it takes less effort in USA to get weapon, than make explosives. Sure in Canada, it would be easier the other way.

      • steiney

        That’s a good think in my opinion, but it’s wrong. A decent gun will cost a minimum of $400. You can make a pipe bomb for probably $50 and kill a lot more people. Plus, you have to be 21 to buy a gun from a dealer in the US, so it’s harder for kids here to get a gun. Bottom line, if I’m somewhere and someone busts into the place and whips out a gun, threatening to kill everyone, I want to have my handgun with me so I can stop the threat and save myself and a lot of innocent people. Where I live this scenario was a reality about five months ago. A couple black guys walked into a gambling parlor with shotguns drawn and did the standard “everyone on the ground, give us your money” thing. Someone in there had a gun, shot and killed one and the other took off and was found later that day. Just imagine what would have happened if that guy wasn’t allowed to have a gun. The bad guys would still have had guns. And at a minimum, a bunch of people would have been victimized and stolen from, and possibly worse. What if they had killed someone to scare everyone, or abducted a woman and raped her? I bet that woman would have wished people were allowed to have guns so she or someone else could have stopped her.

  • BrawlBro1

    So much for privacy. :l

  • Latrese

    Um just don’t do anything illegal and I’m sure they won’t give a damn:/

    • Damian W

      true, but the problem is these new laws add up. Each time you look there is more and more. At some point we will realize that we live in a very rigid, controlled environment.

      iTunes represent rigid/controlled environment, whereas Android is the free world (however google abuses privacy too).

      • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

        At some point? We already do!!

      • Damian W

        i think we are getting there….but we dont wear bracelet with tracking gps yet.

      • Kaptivator

        Its not a bracelet…Its our phones, debit cards and anything else that transmits data electronically.

      • Damian W

        Well it does make sense that these things are trackable, after all you can always choose not to use them since nobody forces you to have them.

  • jose castro

    Let’s petition that shit

    • Damian W

      I dont think petition will change anything. From what we have seen Apple and the government have some sort of special agreement. Some time ago it was discovered that FBI keeps track of millions UDIDs…probably because Apple let them use UDID at the first place.

      • Kurt

        that was reported on here, and the next day it was reported to be a hoax.

    • Hyr3m

      Think we’ll need a guillotine more than a petition if we want to stop this kind of bullshit from happening over and over again…

  • anasiatka

    Call me naive, but who cares? Don’t we already keep everything on the Cloud, such as banking information, insurance information and as a normal registration process entering in personal information? I could think of a lot more privacy issues or concerns then what we would have on our iCloud accounts. Are we going to create an appointment with attendees for that bank we plan to rob next week? Nope. Are we going to post a journal entry in the Notes of the times we ran red lights or were speeding on our way to work that day? If you do, then I guess you may need to seek professional help so the government stepping in could get you that help – albeit forcibly.

    • Yan Kar

      Lets say they can access your info in the could. Are you grantee they won’t upload anything out there by them self to get you when they need it?

      There are soooo much abuse by those services. What is ok today may not be tomorrow.

    • Damian W

      I use iCloud for things that have nothing to do with my personal info, and i will keep it this way.

  • http://twitter.com/ihxclos Carlitos 

    How long before the Internal Intelligence Surveillance Act?

    • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

      The USA PATRIOT Act (2001). Renewed by President Obama last year. So much for Barry O being a bleeding heart liberal, eh?

      • Kaptivator

        When will people understand that no matter Democrat or Republican…They all stink! Everyone answers to someone. No matter how far up the totem pole you are. BTW, I didn’t vote you down.

      • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

        There are very marginal numbers within each party who offer fresh ideas but for the most part each party has the same platform. Big-government policies, corporate bailouts, and obscene spending on the Mlitary Industrial Complex were issues that Democrats detested about President Bush. Surprise, surprise! Turns out that their liberal messiah Barack Obama has done nothing but continue the biggest failed policies of the Bush administration. I will commend him for taking a stand on equality, as pertaining to the LGBT subculture. Then again, he wants everybody to have the same rights so that he can take hem away from everyone!

  • http://twitter.com/unbeliever008 Jae. Just J.

    Kind of a misleading title. Just saying.

    • Sentry

      Can’t say I disagree. Came here to comment that this doesn’t just apply to iCloud and it has been going on for years, but at least that’s mentioned in the article.

      But an Apple focused site warrants Apple focused headlines, so can’t exactly blame them.

  • DJ Garcia

    Keep your porn not connected to the cloud xD

  • Obsidian71

    “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Ben Franklin

    • AndyDontCare

      Note the part about non-US citizens. Who is to say those non-citizens have that right granted to them in their own country?

      • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

        Rights are not granted by governments. Sure, governments can chose to protect rights or ignore certain rights (see what our government is doing to our civil liberties???), but every human is born with the same inalienable rights.

  • Diego

    That’s why you should be using encfs + dropbox on Computers/Android (sorry android only. There’s no such Freedom on IOS)

  • Yan Kar

    i glad Obama continue Bush policies, little by little soon we will have no rights at all. At the end every1 gets what they asked for.

    • AndyDontCare

      See that little note about “non-US citizens”?

      • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

        See that little bill called the USA PATRIOT Act? Signed by Bush in 2001 and renewed by Obama in 2011…

  • seyss

    if my country was full of terrorists, illegal immigrants, people that refuse to blend in your culture, I’d do the same thing

    • http://twitter.com/AirGoogs Falcon Lorenzo

      Unbelievable

  • http://twitter.com/digitalfeind Dani Hayes

    So they want access to my batman arkham lockdown and Infinity blade data?? That’s all I use iCloud for.

  • kdawgie

    Your best bet is not to store your non-American shit on American servers. Eat local, act local, store local. Kinda funny how everything all comes down to not farming your shit out to other countries.

  • Mark Nicholson

    I am a non us citizen, what I do has nothing to do with the paranoid Government in America. I am not a criminal so keep your paranoia and your nose out of my business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1016087499 Ruud Dé Brûíñ

    Go Mega!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tafk1 Taf Khan

    Bollocks to the cloud then… I will store things locally or use none US companies.

  • http://www.sk1wbw.wordpress.com/ Wayne Williams

    So this is legal hacking? Your files and information are behind a user ID and password.