The US federal authorities have asked Google to disclose the identities of people who watched some YouTube videos. This became known from court documents, Engadget writes.

In one case, the authorities asked Google to provide the names, addresses, phone numbers, and activity data of users who watched certain YouTube videos between January 1 and January 8, 2023. The authorities also asked for the IP addresses of people who watched the videos without logging into their accounts.

Investigators requested this information as part of the case against a person who uses the name “elonmuskwhm” online. This person is suspected of selling bitcoins for cash, thereby violating money laundering laws and engaging in unlicensed money transfer business.

Undercover agents reportedly sent the suspect links to YouTube videos. However, these videos were not private – they were viewed more than 30 thousand times. This means that the authorities potentially asked Google for private information about a fairly large number of people.

According to the documents, the court granted the request. However, it is unclear whether the company handed over the data requested by the authorities.

In another case, the authorities asked Google to provide a list of accounts that had “viewed and/or interacted” with eight live broadcasts on YouTube. The police requested this information after being watched via the stream while searching an area following a bomb threat.

One of these video broadcasts was posted on the Boston and Maine Live account, which has more than 130 thousand subscribers.

Google noted that the company is committed to protecting user privacy. However, privacy advocates are concerned that government agencies can use the power and obtain confidential data of people who simply watch videos on YouTube.