Some viewers of YouTube videos reportedly had their identities revealed by authorities as Google was ordered to disclose information

According to court documents viewed by Forbes, federal authorities in the US requested Google to provide names, addresses, telephone numbers, and user activity of accounts that watched specific YouTube videos between January 1 and 8, 2023. This request also included IP addresses of users who watched the videos without logging into an account. The investigation was focused on an individual known as “elonmuskwhm” who is suspected of illegal activities related to bitcoin transactions and running an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Google was reportedly ordered to hand over the information, which raised concerns about privacy and government overreach. The court granted the order but requested Google to keep it confidential. It is unclear whether Google complied with the request. In a separate incident, authorities asked for information on accounts that interacted with certain YouTube livestreams during a search operation for a reported explosive in a trashcan. Critics and privacy advocates are worried about the extent of government surveillance and access to private information of innocent individuals.

A Google spokesperson assured Forbes that the company follows strict privacy protection measures for its users. However, John Davisson from the Electronic Privacy Information Center highlighted the potential invasion of privacy and the need for probable cause for law enforcement to access sensitive online information.

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