Conservative activist group Project Veritas said on Wednesday the Justice Department had secretly obtained personal information about its employees from Apple and Google as part of an investigation into how the organization received a newspaper believed to be owned by to the daughter of President Joe Biden.
The organization said it recently learned from Apple and Google that the department issued nine subpoenas and warrants between November 2020 and March 2021. The documents requested included payment information and browsing history, and the department has forced tech companies not to disclose government orders. , according to Project Veritas.
The organization on Wednesday revealed what it said were notifications from Apple, dated last month, in which the tech company said it received lawful requests in late 2020 and early 2021 for “customer data.” The notification stated that the request authorized “deferred notice to the affected customer”. Project Veritas also revealed last month that the Justice Department had obtained secret court orders to seize the emails of eight staff members.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment, as did an Apple spokesperson.
Google spokesperson Jose Castaneda said in a statement, “In order to protect user privacy, we do not comment on specific cases, but we are strongly committed to protecting user data and have a long history of pressure to inform people using our services about legal demands relating to their data.
Project Veritas calls itself a media organization, although it relies on tactics – including undercover operations – that are not considered conventional or widely accepted media practices.
Its founder, James O’Keefe, previously said officers searched his home and the homes of two other people as part of the newspaper’s investigation. O’Keefe said Project Veritas ultimately did not release the log information because it could not confirm it belonged to Ashley Biden. He said the log, which Project Veritas had received from “tricksters” who said it had been abandoned in a room, had been turned over to a law enforcement agency.
Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating and a former federal judge has been appointed to ensure that no First Amendment protections or attorney-client privileges are violated when reviewing documents seized by federal law enforcement authorities. law enforcement with people associated with Project Veritas.
Follow Eric Tucker on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/etuckerAP