For EU companies and companies doing business within the EU, the use of Gmail and Google Apps may not be as secure or legally compliant as thought.
Whilst eyes have been focused on the US PATRIOT Act and how it might place EU companies in violation of the European Data Protection Directive, the US government has used a much older act, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, to secretly acquire data from an individual’s Gmail account.
The owner of the account in question, Jacob Appelbaum, is a Wikileaks volunteer; the US government has made no secret of its antipathy towards Wikileaks and the US Attorney General, Eric Holder, has said that the US government is running an “active criminal investigation” into WikiLeaks.
To its credit Google had requested for the right to inform Appelbaum that his data was being sequestered.
Google has disclosed that in the six months ending 31st December 2009 that it had received 4,601 requests for data from the US government and that it had complied with 94% of the requests.