Law enforcement authorities can also use warrants in other ways. Police have issued warrants to Google for any devices that were near where a crime was committed.
The companies say they sometimes work with law enforcement officials to narrow their requests so the companies turn over only information that is relevant to a case.
How often do the authorities obtain such data from the tech companies?
Apple said that in the first half of 2020, the latest period available, it received more than 5,850 requests from U.S. authorities for data related to 18,600 accounts. It turned over basic data in 43 percent of those requests and actual content data, such as emails or photos, in 44 percent of requests.
Microsoft said that it received 5,500 requests from U.S. law enforcement over the same period, covering 17,700 accounts, and that it turned over basic data to 54 percent of requests and content to 15 percent of requests.
Google said that it…