This article was produced in collaboration with Court Watch, an independent outlet that unearths overlooked court records.
The U.S. government is demanding that tech companies provide information related to push notifications in order to identify a target’s specific device, according to a court record reviewed by 404 Media. The finding comes as Senator Ron Wyden published a letter on Wednesday warning that the U.S. and foreign governments are making such surveillance demands around push notifications to Apple and Google.
It is not totally clear if the demand for data related to push notifications mentioned in the court record is one and the same as that described at a high level in Wyden’s letter. Regardless, the court record provides more clarity on the legal mechanisms being used in at least some cases to request information related to push notifications, and what sort of crimes this novel surveillance technique is being used against.
“In the spring of 2022, my office received a tip that government agencies in foreign countries were demanding smartphone ‘push’ notification records from Google and Apple. My staff have been investigating this tip for the past year, which included contacting Apple and Google,” the letter from Senator Wyden to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland reads. Reuters was first to report the letter.