Report: Feds Are Demanding User Passwords from Web Companies

By Adam Clark Estes on at

Just when you thought the US government's prying eye could pry no further, CNET is reporting that the feds are telling web companies to turn over account passwords, presumably so that they can break in and look at everything these users are doing online. Bummer, huh?

Before you get too worked up over this latest report, keep in mind that it's just a report. CNET's Declan McCullagh, who's been hawking the government surveillance beat lately, cites two anonymous sources who say they've been at the receiving end of such reports. We don't know anything about these sources and all of the companies that McCullagh asked about the requests either denied to disclose whether they'd been asked or didn't respond.

You might assume that as we're all based in Blighty, it won't affect us. But the reality is that the vast majority of your internet services accounts like Gmail, Dropbox etc are all American services, and so are fair game for the prying eyes of the US government.

It's not too much of a stretch to assume the report's true, though. We learned earlier this week — also from McCullagh at CNET — that the government was also asking around for encryption keys, and so passwords are just a stage further. Even if they're not asking for passwords, McCullagh leads us to believe that the US government is actively attempting to crack passwords of some user accounts. It's unclear if they have the appropriate warrants or court orders to do so. It's also unclear if we'll ever find out exactly what's going on. [CNET]

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