Law enforcement is compelling Apple and Facebook to hand over the personal information of users who were mass arrested at protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, DC, AlterNet has confirmed. The tech giants appear to be complying with the data-mining requests, amid mounting concerns over the heavy-handed crackdown against the more than 200 people detained on January 20, among them journalists, legal observers and medics.
“This is part of an increasing trend of law enforcement attempting to turn the internet, instead of technology for freedom, into technology for control,” Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight for the Future, told AlterNet. “This trend started long before Trump and seems to be escalating and growing in scale now.”
More than 200 of those picked up in the sweep at the anti-fascist, anti-capitalist bloc have been hit with felony riot charges, which carry penalties of up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Because the arrests took place in Washington, DC, the cases are being prosecuted by the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is directly accountable to the Department of Justice, now overseen by the notorious white supremacist Jeff Sessions.
Mark Goldstone, a National Lawyers Guild-affiliated attorney who is representing numerous defendants in the case, told AlterNet that “several” of his clients have been contacted by Facebook and Apple and informed that their personal information has been requested by law enforcement.
AlterNet viewed a “customer notice” email sent on February 14 by Apple to one of the defendants, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing charges. “On 2017-01-27, Apple Inc. (‘Apple’) received a legal request from United States Attorney’s Office…