Updated Aug 18, 2018

The big picture: The government's increasing requests for private data

A phone with Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon apps. Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Federal investigators are in a battle with Facebook trying to force the tech company to unlock end-to-end encryption on its Messenger app so they can eavesdrop on a specific user as part of an investigation into the MS-13 gang.

The big picture: Despite Facebook's effort to thwart the government's access to private data, it isn't uncommon for agencies to request similar data from tech companies including giants like Google and Apple.

Between the lines: Though this particular data request is larger than average, tech companies are queried for data thousands of times per year from federal agencies.

Flashback: A similar situation arose with Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2016 when investigators requested Apple help gain entry into an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who carried out the 2015 San Bernardino shooting that resulted in the deaths of 14 people.

The company denied the request, citing the precedent it would set moving forward and potential ethical issues that could arise from it. Apple asserted that forcing the company to write a new software code allowing it to unlock the phone would violate freedoms protected by the First Amendment rights.

  • Investigators were worried that they wouldn't be able to figure out the phone's four digit passcode without using all of the allotted 10 tries and wiping its data.
  • The FBI eventually paid hackers to get into the phone, which allowed the bureau to drop the case against Apple.

The bottom line: The government requesting access to protected data is a regular occurrence for the tech industry and most often play a role in a larger investigation. However, the tech industry has vigorously protected its rights and the rights of users and that is unlikely to change any time soon.

Go deeper

Intelligence community watchdog suggests Trump fired him for doing his job

Michael Atkinson, Inspector General of the Intelligence Community,at the Capitol in October. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson said suggested in a statement Sunday President Trump fired him for "having faithfully discharged my legal obligations."

Why it matters: Atkinson alerted Congress last September to the whistleblower complaint that triggered Trump's impeachment. The firing is part of a broader push to purge the administration of officials deemed disloyal to the president.

Go deeper: Trump's new purge

Editor's note: This is a developing news story. Please check back for updates.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,500

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,500 in the U.S. Sunday evening, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

Go deeperArrowUpdated 42 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 1,273,794 — Total deaths: 69,419 — Total recoveries: 260,193Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 p.m. ET: 337,274 — Total deaths: 9,633 — Total recoveries: 17,449Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment." The USDA confirms that a Bronx zoo tiger tested positive for coronavirus.
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. World update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.