DOJ secretly spied on Apple and Google accounts of Project Veritas and its security detail

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Just a few weeks after Microsoft revealed that President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has been secretly spying on investigative reporting outlet Project Veritas, Apple and Google have revealed that they were also subject to secret surveillance orders that required them to hand over information from the professional and private accounts of Project Veritas and its security detail.

Apple and Google received nine secret subpoenas and warrants from the DOJ between November 2020 and March 2021. These secret subpoenas and warrants required these tech companies to hand over information about Project Veritas and its security detail. The DOJ also compelled Apple and Google not to disclose that they were secretly providing this private information to the government.

Google provided highly sensitive personal information on several Project Veritas employees to the DOJ including their payment information, browsing history, and device media access control (MAC) address (which can be used to identify devices and track their activity).

Two of the DOJ’s subpoenas demanded highly sensitive personal information on two Google accounts, one of which was connected to a separate non-Google email address. These subpoenas demanded the account holders’:

  • Names
  • Addresses
  • Primary and alternate telephone numbers
  • Primary and alternate email addresses
  • Social security numbers
  • Records of session times and durations
  • Records of any internet protocol (IP) addresses used by the subscriber at the beginning, end, and at any time during these sessions (which can be used to monitor a subscriber’s location and their web browsing activity)
  • Browser and operating system information
  • Device media access control (MAC) address
  • Means and source of payment for services (including any credit card or bank account numbers)
  • Account notes and logs, including any customer-service communications or other correspondence with the subscriber
  • Length of service (including start date) and types of service utilized
  • Investigative files or user complaints concerning the subscriber

You can see the subpoena for the account connected to a Gmail address here.

You can see the subpoena for the account connected to the non-Google email address here.

One of the DOJ’s warrants demanded sweeping surveillance of the target’s account for more than a year by ordering Google to hand over:

  • All of the account’s email content (including emails sent, received, and stored in draft form) from January 1, 2020 till January 14, 2021
  • All address book and contact information from January 1, 2020 till January 14, 2021
  • All subscriber and payment information (including name, username, address, telephone number, alternate email addresses, registration IP address, account creation date, account status, length of service, types of services utilized, means and source of payment, and payment history) from January 1, 2020 till January 14, 2021
  • All transactional records associated with the account (including any IP logs or other records of session times and durations) from January 1, 2020 till January 14, 2021
  • All correspondence with the subscriber and others associated with the account (including complaints, inquiries, or other contacts with support services) and records of actions taken from January 1, 2020 till January 14, 2021

You can see this warrant here.

Another two of the DOJ’s subpoenas demanded “any header information reflecting the names, usernames, or IP addresses” of any sender or recipient to specific email addresses. One subpoena demanded this information for a period of more than 11 months (January 1, 2020 till December 11, 2020) on a Gmail address and the other subpoena demanded the information for a period of almost three months (September 1, 2020 till November 24, 2020) on a non-Google email address

You can see the January 1, 2020 till December 11, 2020 subpoena here.

You can see the September 1, 2020 till November 24, 2020 subpoena here.

Project Veritas didn’t reveal the information the DOJ demanded from Apple but did share copies of the emails it had received from Apple.

The DOJ has been serving these secret subpoenas and warrants as part of its investigation into the alleged theft of a diary belonging to President Biden’s daughter, Ashley. Project Veritas said that it obtained the diary from a source who claimed that it had been acquired legally after Ashley abandoned it. Project Veritas didn’t publish the diary’s contents and later handed it over to law enforcement.

However, according to Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe, the DOJ’s sweeping surveillance has also resulted in it viewing messages from confidential sources that have “nothing to do with the Ashley Biden diary.”

O’Keefe added that thousands of these secret orders are issued every year and that they’re not just limited to journalists.

“Every day, American citizens are also being spied on by these secret orders, signed without so much as a hearing,” O’Keefe said.

O’Keefe also pointed to the vast amounts of private and personal information that’s stored in the Apple and Google accounts that are associated with the vast majority of smartphones.

“Think about what is in your Apple and Google Gmail accounts,” O’Keefe said. “These are not just emails. These are your text messages, these are your private photographs of you and your children, your iCloud accounts, your location data, everything. And in the case of journalists, this also includes the information of our sources.”

Not only did the DOJ engage in a sweeping secret surveillance campaign but according to O’Keefe, it also shopped these secret orders around to nine different magistrate judges, “apparently in an effort to keep the breadth of their overreach hidden.”

Project Veritas has filed another motion in federal court demanding the DOJ return its property immediately and cease spying.

We obtained a copy of this motion for you here.

The Judge presiding over the case, Judge Analisa Torres, has ordered the government to respond to Project Veritas’ motion by May 6, 2022.

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