Apple Releases Statement on Customer Privacy and Law Enforcement Requests for Customer Data

prism_logoIn the wake of a public revelation of "PRISM", a top secret intelligence gathering program run by the U.S. National Security Agency in which Apple was reportedly among a number of companies providing the government with direct access to user data, Apple has now issued a "Commitment to Customer Privacy" statement addressing the issue.

According to Apple, no agency has direct access to customer data, and each request for data by law enforcement is evaluated by Apple's legal team to determine the legitimacy of the claim.

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 goes on to note that there are certain categories of information that it does not provide to law enforcement, either because the company never stores it in the first place or is unable to decrypt it. Specifically, Apple notes that iMessage and FaceTime conversations are unable to be decrypted by Apple and that customer location data, Maps searches, and Siri requests are not stored by Apple in any form that could be tied to a specific user.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the comment thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All MacRumors forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

SandboxGeneral Avatar
121 months ago
Last week's podcast on TWiT.tv, Security Now, Steve Gibson detailed how the NSA is obtaining data and how companies themselves are not participating or cooperating with them outside of court orders and requests.

Basically, they're tapping into the fiber optic feeds at the ISP level and splitting the light waves off (hence the term Prism) to their own routers and equipment. This is all done upstream of companies like Apple and Google. So the NSA is getting that data before it ever makes it's way to Apple, Google et al...

Skip ahead to about 57:31 to get the technical details of this.

Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arcite Avatar
121 months ago
And this is why I'll never use the cloud, nor FB, nor upload sensitive data that is unencrypted. Once it's on the 'net, anyone can get it.

TRUST NO ONE!
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
121 months ago
Well, I have nothing to hide to the government any way.

I have. There are lots of things in my life that are none of their business. What a boring life you must lead.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Adokimus Avatar
121 months ago
Image (http://www.keeptalkinggreece.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/tin-foil-hat.jpg?3d6f98)

Believe it or not.. you are not that interesting nor that important for Apple or any government agency to really "care" about where you go grocery shopping, how long it takes you to poop or who you're cheating on your wife with.

Way to rebrand the classic, "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about." That's not my vision of America, that's not my idea of privacy nor freedom. I am astounded that it's yours. And you may think they don't care about who you're cheating on your wife with until you try to do something important; something that goes against their political power structure:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.#Surveillance_and_wiretapping
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.#Allegations_of_adultery

Pick up a history book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...#The_text
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gnasher729 Avatar
121 months ago
Any encoded message can be decrypted. It is just a matter of time and effort. And the government has purpose built big iron which will minimize the time and effort.

Don't feel so secure.

It is physically impossible to perform 2^256 operations on any computer. Not impossible for "the government" but "physically impossible" due to the minimum energy to perform any single operation based on the laws of quantum physics, and the total energy available based on the total matter in the whole universe.

256 bit encryption cannot be decrypted. On the other hand, if _you_ can decrypt the message then there are methods not involving computers and much more unpleasant for you.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iceterminal Avatar
121 months ago
What I noticed is that they say they have their "legal team" review each request. Which is nice. However, did anyone else notice they didn't even state one time they required a warrant for the information?

Nope. They just said "we looked at it and said sure". No warrant needed for them to give up personal information. Regardless of the situation, Apple is saying they are the judge and jury.

Scares the hell out of me.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

apple watch ultra hammer test

YouTuber Tests Apple Watch Ultra Durability With a Hammer: Table Breaks Before the Watch

Sunday September 25, 2022 2:27 pm PDT by
A YouTuber has put Apple's claims for the durability of the Apple Watch Ultra to the test by putting it up against a drop test, a jar of nails, and repeated hits with a hammer to test the sapphire crystal protecting the display. TechRax, a channel popular for testing the durability of products, first tested the Apple Watch Ultra by dropping it from around four feet high. The Apple Watch...
AirPods Max 2022 Colors

Ten Things AirPods Pro 2 Tell Us About AirPods Max 2

Saturday September 24, 2022 1:00 am PDT by
Upon the release of the second-generation AirPods Pro, the AirPods Max became the oldest current-generation AirPods product still in Apple's lineup. Introducing several new features like Adaptive Transparency and the H2 chip, the second-generation AirPods Pro may provide some of the best indications yet of what to expect from the second-generation AirPods Max. Almost two years later, rumors...
tim cook spring loaded event

Six Major Products to Expect From Apple in 2023

Sunday September 25, 2022 10:57 am PDT by
As we approach the end of a busy product release season for Apple with only new iPads and Macs left to be announced over the next month or so, we're also setting our sights on 2023. Apple is rumored to have several major products in the pipeline for next year, including new Macs, a new HomePod, a VR/AR headset, and so much more. Other than new iPhones and Apple Watches, which are expected...
Tim Cook Apple Event

Gurman: New iPads and Macs May Be Announced Through Press Releases, No October Event

Sunday September 25, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Apple may decide to release its remaining products for 2022, which include updated iPad Pro, Mac mini, and 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models, through press releases on its website rather than a digital event, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that Apple is currently "likely to release its remaining 2022 products via press releases,...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Don't Want the Apple Watch Ultra or Series 8? Amazon Has Record Low Prices on Series 7 Models This Week

Friday September 23, 2022 6:56 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra are now available to purchase, but if you aren't interested in these updates you can save a lot of money on Series 7 models right now on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running. The best deals are on cellular...
iphone 14 pro max deep purple

iPhone 15 'Ultra' Could Replace Pro Max Model Next Year

Sunday September 25, 2022 7:02 am PDT by
Apple is gearing up to possibly replace its "Pro Max" iPhone with an all-new "Ultra" iPhone 15 model next year, reliable Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today. Writing in his latest Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for the iPhone 15, Apple is planning a revamped design alongside USB-C and a potential name change. Apple could replace its "Pro Max" branding, which it started to use...
AirPods Pro Second Generation 2 Pairing Feature 1

AirPods Pro 2 Engravings Appear in iOS During Pairing and Connecting

Friday September 23, 2022 9:40 am PDT by
Customers who personalize their second-generation AirPods Pro charging case with an engraving will now have that engraving reflected directly on iOS as they pair and connect their AirPods Pro. Apple allows customers to personalize their AirPods Pro charging case with a special engraving that can include select emojis and Memojis. Unlike before, starting with the second-generation AirPods...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

Some iOS 16 Users Continue to Face Unaddressed Bugs and Battery Drain Two Weeks After Launch

Monday September 26, 2022 7:34 am PDT by
Today marks exactly two weeks since Apple released iOS 16 to the public. Besides the personalized Lock Screen, major changes in Messages, and new features in Maps, the update has also seen its fair share of bugs, performance problems, battery drain, and more. After major iOS updates, it's normal for some users to report having issues with the new update, but such reports usually subside in...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

New 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pros Reportedly Launching Later This Year

Friday September 23, 2022 7:08 am PDT by
Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro models in the fourth quarter of 2022, according to supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report does not mention specific models, but it very likely refers to the next-generation 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros given that the 13-inch model was already updated earlier this year. There has been uncertainty surrounding the timing of new 14-inch and...