Today, Apple has released its first ever report on government information requests, detailing exact numbers of account information and data requests internationally. The report highlights how restrictive the rules are for Apple in the US, as only ranges of 1,000 are represented there.
In conjunction with this report, Apple has joined other companies like Dropbox, LinkedIn and Yahoo in filing an amicus brief requesting more transparency be allowed in disclosing requests in the U.S..
“This report provides statistics on requests related to customer accounts as well as those related to specific devices. We have reported all the information we are legally allowed to share, and Apple will continue to advocate for greater transparency about the requests we receive,” the report states. “At the time of this report, the U.S. government does not allow Apple to disclose, except in broad ranges, the number of national security orders, the number of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content, such as emails, was disclosed.”
Apple has disclosed that it has had 719 total requests worldwide, and between 1,000 and 2,000 in the U.S. Those requests encompassed 769 different accounts worldwide, and between 2,000 and 3,000 in the U.S. Apple complied with 225 total account requests worldwide, and between 0 and 1,000 in the U.S.
Apple says that later this year it will file a second Amicus brief at the Ninth Circuit in support of a case “seeking greater
transparency with respect to National Security Letters.”
Apple says that the government should lift the gag orders preventing it from revealing exact numbers of requests in the US. The report then takes a direct swipe at Google and other companies that mine customer data for advertising.
“Unlike many other companies dealing with requests for customer data from government agencies, Apple’s main business is not about collecting information,” it notes. “As a result, the vast majority of the requests we receive from law enforcement seek information about lost or stolen devices, and are logged as device requests.”
Those device requests are reported separately from requests for personal information related to iTunes, iCloud, or Game Center accounts.
Apple classifies these as account-based requests, which “generally involve account holders’ personal data and their use of an online service in which they have an expectation of privacy, such as government requests for customer identifying information, email, stored photographs, or other user content stored online.”
More to follow…
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