SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – WikiLeaks criticised Google Inc on Monday, alleging that the company waited 2-1/2 years to notify members of the anti-secrecy group that it had turned over their private e-mails and other information to the US government.
In a letter to Google, lawyers representing WikiLeaks said they were “astonished and disturbed” by Google’s actions relating to search warrants it received from federal law enforcement officials and asked for a full accounting of the information Google gave the government.
The revelation follows leaks by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden detailing controversial US government surveillance practices and assurances from technology firms like Google that they would do their utmost to safeguard users’ personal information.
“While it is too late for our clients to have the notice they should have had, they are still entitled to a list of Google’s disclosures to the government and an explanation why Google waited more than two and a half years to provide any notice,” read the letter from the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of WikiLeaks and addressed to Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and General Counsel Kent Walker.
WikiLeaks, founded by Julian Assange, landed in the public spotlight in 2010 when it published a trove of classified government information, including leaked US diplomatic cables.
Google, whose online services include the world’s No 1 Internet search engine as well as the popular Web e-mail service Gmail, notified three members of WikiLeaks on December 23, 2014 that it had provided “all of their e-mail content, subscriber information, metadata and other content” to law enforcement officials more than two years earlier, according to the letter.