The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has compelled Google, Apple, and Microsoft to submit personal data of whistleblower group Project Veritas staffers in an investigation surrounding the lost diary of President Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley.
Project Veritas’ founder and CEO James O’Keefe, on April 13, said that his team was notified by the Google and Apple legal compliance departments that the DOJ had issued nine secret subpoenas compelling the Big Tech keystones to surrender privacy-sensitive information, such as emails, MAC addresses, search history, and payment details of the group’s members.
“Think about what is in your Apple and Google Gmail accounts,” O’Keefe said in an accompanying video in the article, “These are not just emails. These are your text messages, these are your private photographs of you and your children, your iCloud accounts, your location data, everything. And in the case of journalists, this also includes the information of our sources.”
The group said the DOJ’s actions are a gross infringement on civil liberties and the First Amendment, in addition to the Privacy Protection Act and the Fourth Amendment.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss from the Southern District of New York filed nine subpoenas from November 2020 to March 2021, Veritas showed.
In the subpoenas, the DOJ mandated Apple and Google to keep the disclosures a secret for a period of one year, and also required the companies to contact them before disclosing the information even after the embargo was complete.
Microsoft also involved
The revelation comes a month after Microsoft came forward with similar confessions about being forced to provide the organization’s employees’ details to the DOJ.
O’Keefe stated that the DOJ probe into the group’s Microsoft accounts goes back as far as January of 2020, “eight months before we even knew the diary existed,” Fox News reported.
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According to O’Keefe, however, the Feds’ meddling in the private life of organizations is not new or unique.
“This is not just about Project Veritas. Thousands of these secret orders [are] issued every year. Ours are just a fraction of that,” O’Keefe said in the video apparently alluding to similar words spoken by Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ), at a congressional hearing last week.
“Every day, American citizens are also being spied on by these secret orders, signed without so much as a hearing,” O’Keefe added.
In response, Project Veritas filed a motion at the District Court of Southern New York to have the DOJ unseal the affidavits used to procure the subpoenas and electronics seized during a 2021 FBI raid.
“As the Reporters Committee has requested of Federal Judge Analisa Torres, it is time for the DOJ’s affidavits, by which they obtained these unjustified subpoenas, be unsealed,” O’Keefe commented.
Ashley Biden’s ‘lost’ diary
The overzealous motivation of the DOJ to spy on the team appears to be related to the controversy around the Ashley Biden diary that she lost just before the 2020 presidential election, one which contained explosive information about her father.
O’Keefe said his team obtained the diary in late 2020 through anonymous tipsters that claimed to have found the diary in a hotel room after Ashley Biden had stayed there.
O’Keefe stated they chose not to publish the diary’s contents because they could not establish its veracity, though it was reason enough for the FBI to raid his home and two other team employees in November last year.