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Apple Releases Guidelines for Law Enforcement Data Requests

applelogo.png In a new legal resources page posted on its website Wednesday night (via 9to5Mac), Apple outlined its guidelines regarding requests for customer data from from U.S. law enforcement agencies, specifying what information the company can and can not retrieve from devices upon the receipt of a search warrant or legal notice.

Regarding the extraction of data from passcode locked iOS devices, Apple states that it may only retrieve information from its own first party apps, which includes SMS messages, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. However, Apple can not provide access to email, calendar entries or third-party app data. The company says the data extraction process itself can only be performed on devices in "good working order" at its Cupertino, California headquarters.

Apple will also assist law enforcement in returning lost iPhones to their rightful owners, agreeing to contact the customer of record and have them contact law enforcement to get their property back pending available information.

The new page follows a report from The Washington Post last week which stated that the company would begin notifying its users of secret personal data requests from law enforcement. Apple has become increasingly concerned about privacy matters since the discovery of PRISM, a secret intelligence program ran by the NSA.

CEO Tim Cook was noted as saying that the NSA would have to "cart [Apple] out in a box" before it could access the company's servers, as Apple also hired certified privacy professional Sabrina Ross last month to oversee the protection of consumer data.

Top Rated Comments

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25 weeks ago
The NSA is not a law enforcement agency. This announcement is nice, but it doesn't address the larger issue of government surveillance.
Rating: 8 Votes
25 weeks ago

... However, at the end of the day, there is no real point in being paranoid if the government looks into you. If you honestly have nothing to hide then there shouldn't be an issue...


Tell that to the scores of conservative groups that have been unlawfully targeted by the IRS. The government isn't retaining all surveilled data and storing it for later use to prevent terrorist attacks. It could care less about the terror being inflicted on the border states in the south by the waves of illegal democrat voters invading for example. Forgive me if I am skeptical of the so-called protection afforded me by spying on everyone in the US. We daren't profile the one group that seeks to undermine and do the most harm to us - even after they destroyed our World Trade Centers. We can't profile the one group that continues killing our troops and scores of innocent civilians overseas. No, this government is doing far more harm to our Constitution and liberties to pursue its own agenda than the Patriot Act ever did.

Meanwhile, I certainly do not trust what Apple or any other company has to say about the data they are already giving up to the Feds. This PR announcement (among others) is smoke and mirrors. The NSA and U.S government already have access to anything you do in iCLoud, your cellphone, your webcam, your PC, your laptop, and even your car. They certainly have all encryption algorithms and the ability to decrypt email, cloud storage, etc...

The current out-of-control, lawless government should be working for us, not the other way around. It's not a matter of having something to hide. It's a matter of Constitutional protection as American citizens. It's about limiting the power of centralized government. The 4th and 10th ammendments mean something. I just wish more children today were studying them and more people would actually read them.
Rating: 6 Votes
25 weeks ago

I actually dont remember this, article?


who cares
Rating: 5 Votes
25 weeks ago
This is actually rather impressive. Good for them
Rating: 5 Votes
25 weeks ago

This is good that there are some transparent guidelines to this issue.

However, at the end of the day, there is no real point in being paranoid if the government looks into you. If you honestly have nothing to hide then there shouldn't be an issue.

I personally would not care if some NSA analyst read my text messages. I've got nothing to be guilty of. They might think I'm a bit weird though.


Everybody has something to hide. But putting that aside, it's not about whether or not people have something to hide. It's about whether or not the government has a reason to know absolutely everything about you. The requirement is on them to prove they need this information. We are not required to prove we need privacy. We get privacy as a natural right, and that privacy can only be breached with probable cause.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work. That's what the founders intended.

What the NSA and other government agencies in the executive branch are doing is ripping up the 4th Amendment, and claiming they have to because there's a bogeyman that wants to hurt you. What's more, they're setting the precedent that they can rip up any part of our constitution, at any time, just because they feel like it. Is that a precedent you want set?

What's more, the thing doesn't work! Other than some "LOVEINT" conducted by some corrupt employees at the NSA to illegally spy on their girlfriends or husbands, showing us that they can't be trusted with this power, what has PRISM actually successfully accomplished? It didn't stop the Boston Marathon bombings. It didn't stop Edward Snowden from fleeing the country with massive amounts of stolen intelligence. There are plenty of public examples of NSA incompetence, and PRISM not protecting us, and absolutely zero evidence that they've done anything well or actually protected us. If we really want to have a conversation about changing our constitution and giving up our freedoms, it needs to be a public one. All the NSA offers is some vague "well this stopped some threats" with no details to prove they're not making it all up. It's up to them to prove they need this power, and that it actually works as intended. It's not up to us to prove we need them not to. Absolutely nobody here needs to justify their desire for privacy.
Rating: 5 Votes
25 weeks ago

It's very impressive. Remember the internet uproar of a few years ago when Apple was accused of tracking users' GPS locations? Here's what the guidelines have to say about that:



I suppose the tech blogs will fall over themselves scrambling to apologize to Apple, right?


Ok but just be careful;
No, Apple does not track geolocation of devices. is not the same as
No, Apple has not and does not secretly track geolocation of devices.

I very much suspect that the article will be worded very carefully, (as with any company legal statement), that allows them to do more than first appears.
The article links to another there separate documents and I don't mind betting that there will be some contradictions amongst them.
Lastly these are for US enforcement agencies, what's to stop them moving the data overseas and then allowing access, (Extraordinary Data Rendition anybody)?
Rating: 4 Votes
25 weeks ago

This is good that there are some transparent guidelines to this issue.

However, at the end of the day, there is no real point in being paranoid if the government looks into you. If you honestly have nothing to hide then there shouldn't be an issue.

I personally would not care if some NSA analyst read my text messages. I've got nothing to be guilty of. They might think I'm a bit weird though.


It's the opposite. If you are doing nothing wrong, you have everything to hide, because it's absolutely none of the government's business.

That's why search warrants exist. The government needs to prove that something you're doing is their business before they can look.
Rating: 4 Votes
25 weeks ago

Everybody has something to hide. But putting that aside, it's not about whether or not people have something to hide. It's about whether or not the government has a reason to know absolutely everything about you. The requirement is on them to prove they need this information. We are not required to prove we need privacy. We get privacy as a natural right, and that privacy can only be breached with probable cause.

At least, that's how it's supposed to work. That's what the founders intended.

What the NSA and other government agencies in the executive branch are doing is ripping up the 4th Amendment, and claiming they have to because there's a bogeyman that wants to hurt you. What's more, they're setting the precedent that they can rip up any part of our constitution, at any time, just because they feel like it. Is that a precedent you want set?

What's more, the thing doesn't work! Other than some "LOVEINT" conducted by some corrupt employees at the NSA to illegally spy on their girlfriends or husbands, showing us that they can't be trusted with this power, what has PRISM actually successfully accomplished? It didn't stop the Boston Marathon bombings. It didn't stop Edward Snowden from fleeing the country with massive amounts of stolen intelligence. There are plenty of public examples of NSA incompetence, and PRISM not protecting us, and absolutely zero evidence that they've done anything well or actually protected us. If we really want to have a conversation about changing our constitution and giving up our freedoms, it needs to be a public one. All the NSA offers is some vague "well this stopped some threats" with no details to prove they're not making it all up. It's up to them to prove they need this power, and that it actually works as intended. It's not up to us to prove we need them not to. Absolutely nobody here needs to justify their desire for privacy.


Spot on. The Constitution is a default-deny document. Unfortunately, the government has changed the root pasword to "National Security".
Rating: 4 Votes
25 weeks ago
It's very impressive. Remember the internet uproar of a few years ago when Apple was accused of tracking users' GPS locations? Here's what the guidelines have to say about that:

Does Apple store GPS information that can be produced under proper legal process?

No, Apple does not track geolocation of devices.


I suppose the tech blogs will fall over themselves scrambling to apologize to Apple, right?
Rating: 3 Votes
25 weeks ago

At the end of the day, does it really matter if they look at this thread or read your messages?

If one has nothing to hide then it should not be a detrimental act. Investigative methods are not publicised because then counter measures can be developed to circumvent the next investigation.

Who's fault is it when one's safety is breached and harm ensues? The government's for not preventing it in the first place? Or the individual's for not being able to save them self?

If you can defend yourself and maintain your own safety - Why can't the government be allowed to defend itself, or the people in which it governs?


It absolutely does matter, precisely because you're not doing anything illegal. You've got absolutely everything to hide, because your law-abiding behavior is none of the government's business at all.

It's a monumental waste of taxpayer money targeting individuals who have shown no cause for suspicion. As a taxpayer you should be outraged. It's entirely outside the constitutional and legislated scope of the government to investigate and harass citizens who are doing nothing wrong. As a citizen of a nation of laws you should be outraged. It's a violation of your natural rights to privacy as affirmed (not created) by the 4th Amendment. As a human being you should be outraged.

The harm, besides financial, legal, and natural, is also the chilling effects of such programs. I covered this in an earlier post, but the gist is this. If you or anyone else hesitates for even just a moment before exercising any of their rights, because they fear it might be misinterpreted by the all seeing eye of government, there is harm. We know these programs are flawed, because they're designed by human beings, implemented by human beings, managed by human beings, and the results analyzed by human beings. If you think "I have nothing to hide" and really believe that, do you also believe that there is a zero probability of you getting screwed over anyway? If there's even a chance, however small, that you might mistakenly be labeled a terrorist or whatever bogeyman-of-the-week the government is trying to scare us over, simply by user error of some NSA guy who didn't get enough sleep last night, then wouldn't you be a lot happier not to have your name in the database at all? If they're going to make mistakes, wouldn't it be better if they at least had to show some probable cause before collecting data so they only make mistakes with the data of actual suspects?
Rating: 2 Votes

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