Danish Kapoor
Danish Kapoor

Federal authorities in the USA requested YouTube user data

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In the US, federal authorities have requested data including the names, addresses, phone numbers and user activities of users who watch certain YouTube videos. According to the court documents obtained by Forbes magazine, information about the accounts that watched the videos in question between January 1-8, 2023 was requested. Users who watched videos without logging into their account were also not safe; because the government also requested the IP addresses of these users. This request was made as part of an investigation into allegations that a suspect using the name “elonmuskwhm” violated money laundering laws by selling bitcoin and operated an unlicensed money transfer business.

Authorities suspect the suspect of selling cash for bitcoins, thereby violating money laundering laws, while also operating an unlicensed money transfer business. Undercover agents sent the suspect links to YouTube training videos for drone mapping and augmented reality software during conversations in early January. However, these videos were not private and had been viewed more than 30,000 times in total; This means that the government is asking for private information from a fairly large group of users. “There is reason to believe that these records will be relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation, including providing identifying information about the perpetrators,” authorities said. He made a statement as follows.

The court granted the request but ordered Google to keep it secret, according to documents seen by Forbes. It remains unclear whether Google gave the authorities the data they requested. In another incident, authorities requested a list of accounts that “watched and/or interacted” with eight YouTube live streams. Police requested the information after learning they were being monitored via a livestream as they searched an area following a report that explosives had been placed inside a bin. One of these video livestreams was posted by the Boston and Maine Live account, which has over 130,000 subscribers.

A Google spokesperson told Forbes that the company follows a “strict process” to protect the privacy of its users. But critics and privacy advocates raise concerns that government agencies are overstepping boundaries and using their power to obtain sensitive information from people who watch certain YouTube videos but are not engaging in any illegal activity.

“What we watch online can reveal deeply sensitive information about our political views, passions, religious beliefs and more.” “It's a fair expectation that law enforcement will not be able to access this information without reasonable cause,” John Davisson, senior attorney at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told Forbes. “This order reverses that assumption.”

New question marks on online privacy

This incident raises new debates about online privacy and government surveillance powers. Users' expectations that their online activities will remain private are being tested by such government demands. This raises important questions about the protection of privacy rights in the digital age and the limits of the state's capacity to monitor citizens.

Danish Kapoor