Apple: Since December 2012, we have received U.S. gov’t requests for customer data for up to 10,000 accounts

Apple has released the following statement, verbatim:

Apple’s Commitment to Customer Privacy

Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.

Like several other companies, we have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them. We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it here in the interest of transparency.

From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters. The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.

Regardless of the circumstances, our Legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it.

Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.

For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers’ privacy as they expect and deserve.

Source: Apple Inc.

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Related articles:
Nine companies, including Apple, tied to PRISM, Obama to be smacked with class-action lawsuit – June 12, 2013
U.S. lawmakers urge review of ‘Prism’ domestic spying, Patriot Act – June 10, 2013
PRISM: Do Apple, Google, Facebook have an ethical obligation not to spy on users? – June 8, 2013
Plausible deniability: The strange and unbelievable similarities in the Apple, Google, and Facebook PRISM denials – June 7, 2013
Google’s Larry Page on government eavesdropping: ‘We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday’ – June 7, 2013
Seecrypt app lets iPhone, Android users keep voice calls, text messages away from carriers, government eyes and ears – June 7, 2013
Obama administration defends PRISM data-collection as legal anti-terrorism tool – June 7, 2013
Facebook, Google, Yahoo join Apple in sort-of denying PRISM involvement – June 7, 2013
Report: Intelligence program gives U.S. government direct access to customer data on Apple servers; Apple denies – June 6, 2013

23 Comments

  1. Talk about laying the gauntlet down! If anyone stupid enough to doubt Apple’s word, just refer them to the ongoing roasting the DOJ is putting them through. One wonders if it is because they refuse to allow the spooks software to access their servers rather than bank rolling them dodgy people on the hill.

    1. What a great statement by Apple! I sincerely hope that the company sticks to its moral compass and its stated obligations to its customers. I have always felt that Apple led in this area.

      1. The problem is that companies are under gag order from court on those superbroad data sharing.

        Government only authorised the part of confidentiality that controlled by the government, not by court. It is not like court was summoned and lifted gag order.

        Notice the difference in language; none of statements, including from Facebook and Google, mention anything about court gag orders lifted for them.

        1. Notice also that all of those statements talk about “requests”, which are not necessary court-decided. This is why government had the power to allow companies to disclose quantity of such requests.

          Court orders, however, is totally different thing since companies can not talk about the essence of such orders at all or even admit that even single of such orders ever happened. Saying whether the order was narrow or superbroad would be also break of gag order.

  2. The lemmings on the site will probably brag on Apple for this claim that they are protecting us from government spying. BUT, read it again. Plenty of room in their “policy” to hand over the keys to their servers and simply say, “we had to do it.” With AlGore on their board and their entire management team being faithful liberal supporters of Obama and his administration, I don’t feel any more secure after reading this than I did before they issued it. Read it again without looking for confirmation of how great they are and look at what they are actually saying.

  3. On the average day 2300 Americans are reported missing , 92% of whom are adults .
    These numbers are remarkably small . In the 180 period reported there would have been more than 400,000 Americans reported missing and yet Apple had only 10,000 requests from all government agencies!
    Great statement Apple . This must be a lot of work for Apple since they are averaging 56 requests per day .

  4. It’s not a big deal. The government only requests private, personal information that could be abused about individuals who they deem to be a threat to national security. This is limited to people who have voted Republican, people who watch FoxNews, people who listen to Rush Limbaugh, Tea Party attenders, people who believe in the Constitution, people who are not illegal aliens, people who are not Muslim extremists, people who have refused to have an abortion, people who pray (except those who pray to Obama, or Allah, same thing), people who pay taxes, people who have jobs in private industry, people who own guns, people who read the Drudge Report, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz, Tim Tebow, Billy Graham, Antonin Scalia, Ted Nugent, Clint Eastwood, Kelsey Greamer, Linus, Snoopy, Jed Clampett, David Feherty, Gary Sinise, Hillary Clinton, all active duty and former US military personnel, anyone working to produce energy products (only the commercially viable ones), all Chick-Fil-A customers, employees and shareholders, and a few others. It is just for national security and it is safeguarded by the secret court that approved it.

    1. You forgot paranoid schizophrenics with a penchant for conspiracy theories, and people whose estimation of their own intelligence is inversely proportional to the number of languages they speak.

      Get out much?

      1. For the record, I believe that our current political leadership–regardless of party–are interested only in maintaining their own power and prosperity, and will do whatever they can to preserve it. It’s not a Democrat or Republican thing. They’re all equally bad, and the only difference is who gets the screws put to them at any particular time.

    2. Yeeesss! It’s always heartening to discover someone with a brain on the site. And, don’ worry about being called a “troll” Mr. Kent… that’s the only reply the lemmings around here have to say when someone posts anything other than praise for the once great company and it’s current failed leadership.

      1. Jay, you have just, in a truly spectacular fashion, confirmed what everyone with a brain on here already knew, and that is you are an imbecile. Kent’s post was satirical and sarcastic, but you’re to stupid to realise it.
        Cretin.

    3. I know you’ve got a political axe to grind, but I’ll be fair and say that the government has probably spied on most of your list. However, you should have been a little more honest and pointed out that it has been ADMITTED that the current government has spied on, infiltrated, and coordinated physical attacks on many politically-left groups, including Occupy Wall Street. This happened, and many government documents released under FOIA that describe it, despite the fact that in those same documents the government agents describe the groups as peaceful/non-violent. In other words, your legitimate paranoia needs to be more inclusive. The folks in power from EITHER major party are interested in spying on and suppressing the speech/freedom of ANYONE who dissents from the current established powers.
      In other words, you’re playing into their “pit one side that cares against the other” distraction game. While you hate on the left-leaning people who also care about freedom, they’re stealing everything to hand to the plutocrats who don’t give a shit about any principles except “more-for-me.”

  5. Ok blah blah bull crap…
    Ask for permission my ass!
    That should have a spine and just report it. Put up a live feed on Twitter or something. Let the government sue them which will attract attention to what serious breach of privacy and crap they are up to. And I get really irritated that most if the reporting on US TV, at least on CNBC and Bloomberg has been about how Snowdrn can be charged… Amazing… No one has a spin to stand up and say THIS IS FUCKIG WRONG. Ok government writes the law and does what they want but at least have some “common sense” and stand up! I am bit a US citizen but this concerns everyone all over the world and I am really dissapointed in Obama. He should stand up and say – This is wrong and I will shut down this NSA program tomorrow.

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