US Authorities Can Access iCloud Data Stored by Non-American Citizens Without a Warrant


Your personal information uploaded to the iCloud, Google Drive, or Dropbox (and more…) is open for view to US authorities without even the need to apply for a warrant, The Independent reports.

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The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allows US authorities open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies.

This means all your photographs and documents, and even your contacts list that you backed up to iCloud, which are obviously stored on computer systems based in the US – see Apple’s server farms – can be accessed without notifying the owners.

Turns out, this legislation isn’t quite new: it was introduced towards the end of President George W. Bush’s administration in 2008 and was renewed in December, but the legal experts and privacy campaigners are waking up only now.

“What this legislation means is that the US has been able to mine any foreign data in US Clouds since 2008, and nobody noticed,” Caspar Bowden, who served as Chief Privacy Adviser to Microsoft Europe for nine years until 2011, told The Independent.

Significantly, bodies such as the National Security Agency, the FBI and the CIA can gain access to any information that potentially concerns US foreign policy for purely political reasons – with no need for any suspicion that national security is at stake – meaning that religious groups, campaigning organisations and journalists could be targeted.

The information can be intercepted and stored in bulk as it enters the US via undersea cables crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

Cloud services are supposed to be secure (besides cheap) for storing information, as users can upload the data to Apple’s or Google’s servers using an internet connection rather than storing on their computers. News of this legislation brings that security into question.


  • How can we bring this to the attention of Canadian foreign relations and the privacy minister? This has to stop!

  • Thanks for the article and the information. This is good to know. Why just the iCloud mention? iOS users use Dropbox, Skydrive, AWS, Crashplan, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and of other storage and information services based in the US. Those are all much bigger issues than iCloud.

    But since this is a Canadian blog, can you propose a Canadian alternative to these services?

  • Metro

    I don’t even have anything personal in the cloud and I find this somewhat disturbing. That is completely ridiculous. Way to go George W; another ridiculous piece of legislation that your Canadian neighbours will never understand.

  • reformcanada

    You can thank Obama while you are at it. The article stated the legislation was renewed in December.

  • m Arch Tom’s on Bar N Ass

    quite frankly i trust US authorities more than any catholic-church related company or organization for monitoring documents and for security purpose in addition, i believe this article has forgotten to mention emails sent and received by mean of iCloud services although emails may fall into a category of documents uploaded to iCloud. we also already knew about all this monitoring and surveillance by authorities , what we didn’t know is someone has been so stupid to trust TELCO companies (carriers call centers) and got them involved in this anti-terrorism plan forgetting TLC industry (depending on regions) is mostly populated by lazy buggers catholic christians and even breaking the law by mean of stealing intellectual property and behaving as mafia (criminal association) with aggressiveness and ignoring privacy as well as breaking anti-trust law by mean of group boycott.

  • I don’t like the idea that a foreign country can look into my personal info. However, I really have nothing to hide. If anything they could see my resume and say, “wow, this guy has some bipolar career choices, let’s hire him”. ….lol, I’d love a good wage for once.

  • A simple method, don’t use the services. Focus on building new ones or using other methods. These services didn’t exist too long ago and we did fine without them. There many other solutions available to back up, store and share information.

  • ????Dennis

    People are naive if they thought their information was private. Why do you think Apple has invested so much in these “cloud farms”? Most people just use the free 5 gb. I use iCloud just for my contacts, but that’s where it stops. Apple is harvesting this info for much more gain the your measly monthly fee…….think about it.