Apple has received about 590 unlimited or indefinite duration gag orders in 2016 alone, while in the first seven months of 2016, Yahoo received over 700 federal search warrants for user data, and about 60 percent of these were accompanied by gag orders of indefinite duration.
The companies also draw a contrast between the rules governing physical and electronic searches. “The government’s ability to engage in surreptitious searches of homes and tangible things is practically and legally limited. But the Act allows the government to search personal data stored in the cloud without ever notifying an account owner that her data has been searched,” wrote Yahoo, Google, Cisco and some other companies in a brief.
Besides the tech companies and civil rights groups, media companies like The Washington Post and Fox News Network, and five former federal law enforcement officials from the Western District of Washington also filed briefs on Friday.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.