Apple releases ‘Report on Government Information Requests’

Applel has released he following report:

Report on Government Information Requests November 5, 2013

We believe that our customers have a right to understand how their personal information is handled, and we consider it our responsibility to provide them with the best privacy protections available. Apple has prepared this report on the requests we receive from governments seeking information about individual users or devices in the interest of transparency for our customers around the world.

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.

Apple offers customers a single, straightforward privacy policy that covers every Apple product. Customer privacy is a consideration from the earliest stages of design for all our products and services. We work hard to deliver the most secure hardware and software in the world, including such innovative security solutions as Find My iPhone and Touch ID, which have made the iPhone both more secure and more convenient.

Perhaps most important, our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers. We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

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. We strongly oppose this gag order, and Apple has made the case for relief from these restrictions in meetings and discussions with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the courts. Despite our extensive efforts in this area, we do not yet have an agreement that we feel adequately addresses our customers’ right to know how often and under what circumstances we provide data to law enforcement agencies.

We believe that dialogue and advocacy are the most productive way to bring about a change in these policies, rather than filing a lawsuit against the U.S. government. Concurrent with the release of this report, we have filed an Amicus brief at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) in support of a group of cases requesting greater transparency. Later this year, we will file a second Amicus brief at the Ninth Circuit in support of a case seeking greater transparency with respect to National Security Letters. We feel strongly that the government should lift the gag order and permit companies to disclose complete and accurate numbers regarding FISA requests and National Security Letters. We will continue to aggressively pursue our ability to be more transparent.

Like many companies, Apple receives requests from law enforcement agencies to provide customer information. As we have explained, any government agency demanding customer content from Apple must get a court order.1 When we receive such a demand, our legal team carefully reviews the order. If there is any question about the legitimacy or scope of the court order, we challenge it. Only when we are satisfied that the court order is valid and appropriate do we deliver the narrowest possible set of information responsive to the request.

Unlike many other companies dealing with requests for customer data from government agencies, Apple’s main business is not about collecting information. 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. These types of requests frequently arise when our customers ask the police to assist them with a lost or stolen iPhone, or when law enforcement has recovered a shipment of stolen devices.

Only a small fraction of the requests that Apple receives seek personal information related to an iTunes, iCloud, or Game Center account. Account-based requests 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. Apple logs these as account requests.
We believe it is important to differentiate these categories and report them individually. Device requests and account requests involve very different types of data. Many of the device requests we receive are initiated by our own customers working together with law enforcement. Device requests never include national security–related requests…

Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.

Read Apple’s full report (.pdf), including worldwide account requests and device requests Apple received from law enforcement agencies between January 1, 2013 – June 30, 2013, here.


  1. This is a great proactive move by Apple.

    However, as someone who’s analyzed what is and more importantly is NOT said during a product announcement, I’m left wondering if this is the whole picture. Apple is very good at saying what a product WILL do while never mentioning what it will NOT do.

    Example: The new iOS7 will work on the following devices… But, never a mention of the ones it does not work on. You have to figure that out on your own.

    1. The problem is that this is report on government “requests”, not on secret court rulings which are not request but absolute demands under threat of great legal penalties — and yet completely gag-ordered that companies can not even admit those court orders exist, let alone disclose the breadth of the scope those orders cover (and the scope is total spying). Report can not discuss this.

    2. Yes, all companies list the products that are not running the newly announced operating system.

      Tim Cook: And now I’m going to bring up Phil Schiller to run down the list of devices that won’t be getting this update.

      Phil Schiller: Thanks, Tim. We’ve made a video . . .

  2. You mean to tell me iOS 7 doesn’t work on my Newton130?
    Apple does it right by only listing those that it is designed for. Where to draw the line? Will not work on Motorola Droid?

    Oh, and Googles response is to buy more lobbying power so it spends more than most defense contractors…hmmm

  3. I wonder how long it will be before the NSA requests access (or just hacks in) to iCloud keychains to gain access to every password of every Apple user. The danger here is not that the NSA might steal funds from your account, but that a corrupt NSA employee might sell this information to others. Given how easily Snowden gained access to this treasure trove of data, who else has done so? And for what purpose?

    1. Believe me, it’s much, much easier for the government or anyone else to just break into your computer at home rather than try and gain access to Apple’s extremely secure servers.

    2. Hmm. It’s another possibility SunbeamRapier.

      But what’s at stake here is my US federal government DESTROYING the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution. The USA is fundamentally turning into a criminal, fascist state, no joke. Really sick and sad. (Please read some relevant history before attempting to make fun of my statement).

      1) The feds have NO right to blanket surveil anyone. Every request for surveillance requires probable cause AND a court warrant. The NSA does not care and does not follow the US Constitution. They act as their own criminal government with no regard for the Fourth Amendment.

      2) Apple cannot be gag-ordered when the NSA is breaking the US Constitution. Instead, Apple has every right to say exactly what crimes the NSA is perpetrating against the citizens it is pledged to serve and protect. That’s the point of the First Amendment.

      Right now, let’s worry about these core crimes. The rest is peripheral noise by comparison, at least to US citizens.

      But yes, there’s a heap of worry to find when we go looking.

  4. “our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers. We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form.”

    Can Google claim anything even remotely like this?

    1. Love it! Not prefaced (but it should be) is: “Unlike SOME tech companies we could name…”

      Another zinger would be: “OUR ‘products’ are hardware, software and services which we create, NOT the people who use them.” Take that, Google and Facebook!

  5. Isn’t it ironic that some (one) well known communist countries in the chart have made only a tiny portion of requests as compared to the USA? The “other” big communist country is not even on the list (did not make any requests)!

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