Waving the White Flag

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Human beings are, by far, the smartest species to ever walk the earth, but despite everything, they retain a pretty dismal record at not making mistakes. This has already been reinforced quite a few times throughout our history, with each testimony practically forcing us to look for a defensive cover. We will, however, solve our conundrum in the most fitting way possible, and we’ll do so by bringing dedicated regulatory bodies into the fold. Having a well-defined authority across each and every area was a game-changer, as it instantly gave us a cushion against our many shortcomings, and consequentially, ushered us towards a much better reality. However, the bump we got here was pretty short-lived, and truth be told, it was all technology’s fault. You see, the moment technology got its layered nature to take over the scene, it allowed every individual an unprecedented chance to exploit others for their own benefit. In case this didn’t sound bad enough, the whole runner soon began to materialize on such a massive scale that it expectantly overwhelmed our governing forces. After spending a lengthy spell in the middle of nowhere, though, the regulatory contingent is finally revving up for a comeback. The same has only grown more and more evident over the recent past, and a new settlement involving Google should do a lot to further that trend.

Google has formally agreed to improve its compliance program as part of a settlement with US Justice Department. According to certain reports, the company will give special attention to how it handles responses to legal demands such as subpoenas and search warrants. The point of focus here, like you can guess, is driven by a dogfight between Google and DOJ that commenced back in 2016. It all kicked off when the authorities asked the search giant to hand over relevant data, which was stored in systems outside the country, for a probe into BTC-e, a cryptocurrency exchange indicted for alleged money laundering. The authorities did get an official warrant for the same, but then US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act (SCA) did not cover data stored outside of the United States, therefore triggering a two-year long dispute. This whole situation will crescendo with Congress literally updating a law to clarify how the Stored Communications Act can also apply to information held abroad. However, by the time it did so, the data authorities needed was somehow lost.

“This agreement demonstrates the department’s resolve in ensuring that technology companies, such as Google, provide prompt and complete responses to legal process to ensure public safety and bring offenders to justice,” Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth Polite said.

While DOJ has ruled that a penalty in the case isn’t required, it will appoint a third-party independent compliance professional, who will monitor Google’s efforts in this area.

When quizzed regarding the settlement, a Google representative said:

“Google has a long track record of protecting our users’ privacy, including pushing back against overbroad government demands for user data, and this agreement in no way changes our ability or our commitment to continue doing so,”

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