US authorities can access foreign users' iCloud data without their consent

If you don't live in the United States but make use of Apple's online storage system, iCloud, US authorities could technically obtain and view your information without your consent. Actually, this doesn't just affect iCloud, but any cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, and any other service that is based in the United States.

While this isn't new news, nor reason to stop using all your cloud storage accounts, it's still interesting and worth knowing, especially if you live outside the US but have a lot of your data stored with iCloud or another service. The Independent has an intriguing story on the subject and what it means for international users -

Amendments to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, known as FISA, allow US government agencies open access to any electronic information stored by non-American citizens by US-based companies. Quietly introduced during the dying days of President George W Bush’s administration in 2008, the amendments were renewed over Christmas 2012.

This basically means that if US authorities found reason, they could search your cloud storage accounts for information. Most of this was probably put into place to prevent acts of terrorism considering this rule doesn't apply for United States residents. Even so, it just goes to show that sometimes convenience comes at the price of privacy.

The Independent goes on to explain why the rule may have went into affect -

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.

Basically FISA was put into place to target any potential threats. Basically, unless you give them a reason or raise a red flag for them to follow up on, your data probably won't ever be looked at our touched. Any foreign readers out there have any input on whether this would affect your decision to use cloud storage services?

Source: The Independent

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.