Intercept on how the DoJ gagged Google over surveillance of a Wikileaks volunteers Gmail account and the tough legal battle that ensued (emphasis added):
The Justice Department argued in the case that Appelbaum had “no reasonable expectation of privacy” over his email records under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Rather than seeking a search warrant that would require it to show probable cause that he had committed a crime, the government instead sought and received an order to obtain the data under a lesser standard, requiring only “reasonable grounds” to believe that the records were “relevant and material” to an ongoing criminal investigation.
Google repeatedly attempted to challenge the demand, and wanted to immediately notify Appelbaum that his records were being sought so he could have an opportunity to launch his own legal defense. Attorneys for the tech giant argued in a series of court filings that the government’s case raised “serious First Amendment concerns.” They noted that Appelbaum’s records “may implicate journalistic and academic freedom” because they could “reveal confidential sources or information about WikiLeaks’ purported journalistic or academic activities.”
However, the Justice Department asserted that “journalists have no special privilege to resist compelled disclosure of their records, absent evidence that the government is acting in bad faith,” and refused to concede Appelbaum was in fact a journalist. It claimed it had acted in “good faith throughout this criminal investigation, and there is no evidence that either the investigation or the order is intended to harass the … subscriber or anyone else.”
Google’s attempts to fight the surveillance gag order angered the government, with the Justice Department stating that the company’s “resistance to providing the records” had “frustrated the government’s ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation.”
So the United States Department of Justice’s position is if a company fights back against a request for user data rather than just handing it over haplessly, they consider that act to frustrate their ability to efficiently conduct a lawful criminal investigation?