Dropbox Addresses Government Spying

Flickr user babyben

New policy lays out the service's 'government request principles.'

Dropbox, a cloud storage app the government recommends for federal teleworkers, has revised its privacy policy to address concerns about other federal workers spying on users’ data.  

The new policy, which goes into effect March 24, acknowledges that Dropbox might share user data with outsiders to comply with the law, "if we determine that such disclosure is reasonably necessary."  An email to users immediately adds that the company will follow its own Government Request Principles, guidance that obliquely antagonizes the National Security Agency and includes fighting requests for bulk data.

"Government data requests should be limited to specific people and investigations," the principles state. "We’ll resist requests directed to large groups of people or that seek information unrelated to a specific investigation." 

Would the federal teleworker cohort also be protected? A mobile worker toolkit guide distributed by the General Services Administration suggests that teleworkers consider using Dropbox as "basic mobility equipment."

The handbook states: “Have you considered the free downloadable program ‘DROPBOX’?”

The amendments to Dropbox's privacy policy are part of a larger movement by many Internet giants and startups to address concerns about massive NSA data sweeps. The service says it will strive to protect its systems from any "backdoor" tools allegedly being installed by NSA and other government spies to tap into data center traffic.

"Governments should never install backdoors into online services or compromise infrastructure to obtain user data," Dropbox officials state. "We’ll continue to work to protect our systems and to change laws to make it clear that this type of activity is illegal."

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