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
103 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
103 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
103 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
103 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
103 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
103 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)

Top Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Brydge's 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Keyboard With Trackpad

Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:48 am PDT by
Brydge has been making keyboards for Apple's iPads for years now, and the newest model, the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, is compatible with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPad Pro models, so it works even with the new mini-LED iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ to see if it's a viable...