Fighting Unlawful Warrants and Indefinite Gag Orders to Protect Internet Privacy and Security
Last week, Mozilla and other major technology companies, including Amazon, Apple, Google and Twitter, joined together in an amicus brief filing that supports Facebook’s ability to challenge both a search warrant for nearly 400 Facebook users’ data, and an indefinite gag order which forbids Facebook from notifying users about government requests for their data.
Mozilla is joining this brief because we believe this type of lengthy, never-ending gag order ultimately infringes on the ability to control one’s online experience. This is part of our fight to protect individual privacy and security online, and to improve internet health by promoting cybersecurity and increasing transparency.
In this case, the government argued that Facebook has no legal right to even challenge the warrant’s scope or validity, and a lower court agreed. This would mean companies like Mozilla couldn’t challenge unlawful orders we receive. And, because gag orders would prevent us from notifying users, those users wouldn’t know to challenge them either. Unlawful warrants would never see the light of day or be apparent to users. This is staggering and unacceptable.
While we have yet to receive a gag order that would prevent us from notifying a user about a request for data, we said in our transparency report earlier this year that we are committed to opposing any unlawful or overbroad requests for our users’ data and that’s exactly what we’re doing today. Mozilla also joined an amicus brief in September to fight back against indiscriminate use of permanent gag orders that prevent companies from ever notifying users about requests for their data.
We will continue to look for opportunities like these to protect privacy and security online for all users and to improve the overall health of the internet.