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.

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Top Rated Comments

SandboxGeneral Avatar
144 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
144 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
144 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
144 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
144 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
144 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)