Jan 25, 2020

Google cashes in on law enforcement data requests

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Google began capitalizing on law enforcement's request for user data this month, the New York Times reports.

The big picture: Big Tech giants like Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Microsoft explicitly announce they might seek reimbursement for giving personal data to federal agencies and law enforcement, which they're legally entitled to do.

By the numbers: Google received more than 75,000 global requests for data in the first half of 2019, according to the Times. That's more than Microsoft, but way less than Facebook.

  • Microsoft received only 24,175 data requests from January to June last year. Microsoft says it rejected roughly 26% of those requests.
  • Facebook had more than 128,000 government requests for data in that same time frame, and complied about 73% of the time.
  • Google's "fees range from $45 for a subpoena and $60 for a wiretap to $245 for a search warrant," the Times reports.

Why it matters, per the NYT: "Some Silicon Valley companies have for years forgone such charges, which can be difficult to enforce at a large scale and could give the impression that a company aims to profit from legal searches. But privacy experts support such fees as a deterrent to overbroad surveillance."

What they're saying: Google's fees are partially meant to help offset costs of complying with subpoenas and warrants, a Google spokesperson told the Times.

Background: Microsoft's lawsuit challenging the Electronic Communications Privacy act — which Apple, Twitter and Amazon filed in support of — was dismissed by the Justice Department in 2017.

  • Microsoft said that the law, which allows governments access to customers' data, violates its customers' Fourth Amendment rights.
  • The DOJ countered that Microsoft can't argue on behalf of its customers' Fourth Amendment rights — only the customers can.

Go deeper: SCOTUS torn (again) between law enforcement, digital privacy

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Microsoft again top U.S. company as market cap hits $1.435T

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Microsoft again became the most valuable U.S. company on Monday as its stock rose to another record high. Microsoft regained the designation after more than three months in second place, trailing Apple.

Details: The company's stock rose 2.6% to boost its market capitalization to $1.435 trillion. The last time Microsoft was the most valuable U.S. company at the market's close was Oct. 30. Prior to that, Microsoft was the most valuable for 127-straight sessions, from April 18 through Oct. 17, according to MarketWatch. Year to date, Microsoft's stock has jumped by 19.7%.

Go deeper: The 5 biggest U.S. stocks account for almost 18% of the S&P 500's market value

Big Tech goes green, but still can't escape climate pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Big Tech is getting greener — but that’s not keeping it out of climate advocates’ crosshairs.

The state of play: Even as major tech companies announce new green ambitions — and evince existing ones — they're facing heightened pressure to walk the walk when it comes to their products and clients.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020

Amazon lawsuit causes judge to temporarily block Microsoft Pentagon contract

Jeff Bezos. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

A federal judge has temporarily blocked the $10 billion cloud computing contract the Defense Department awarded to Microsoft as it reviews a lawsuit by Amazon, CNBC reports.

The big picture: Amazon claims the decision to hand Microsoft the contract for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project in late October was influenced by President Trump, who has repeatedly and publicly taken shots at Amazon and its owner Jeff Bezos.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Feb 13, 2020 - Technology