Apple Publishes Report Outlining Government Information Requests

Apple today published a Report on Government Information Requests [PDF], outlining statistics on government and law enforcement requests it has received seeking information about individual users or devices from January to the end of June.

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.

In the report, Apple specifies that it has "no interest in collecting customer data" and details the number of law enforcement requests that it has received, the number of accounts specified within the requests, the number of accounts that Apple supplied data for, and the number of requests Apple objected to.

According to the data, Apple received 3,542 device information requests, for 8,605 devices. Apple provided data for 88 percent or 3,110 of those requests. The company also received between 1,000 and 2,000 requests for account information for 2,000 to 3,000 accounts, but is unable to disclose the information that it provided. Apple also provided information for law enforcement agencies in a number of other countries.

appledisclosureinfo

Click for Full Size

Apple reports that it has published all of the information that it is legally allowed to share, which does not include the number of national security orders, the number of accounts affected by orders, or the content disclosed. Apple notes that it is continuing to seek greater transparency in government, to attempt to provide better privacy disclosures to customers.

Apple's disclosures come following news of a top secret intelligence data gathering program called 'PRISM', which was revealed in June. A number of tech companies, including Apple, were accused of providing the government with direct access to user data.

In response, Apple published a statement of "Commitment to Customer Privacy" denying its participation in PRISM and teamed up with a number of tech companies to form an alliance requesting greater NSA surveillance transparency, allowing it to provide customers with regular reports on security related requests.

Apple and other companies also met with President Obama in August to discuss privacy issues and government surveillance. Most recently, Apple and 30 other technology corporations signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Surveillance Order Reporting Act of 2013 and the Surveillance Transparency Act of 2013, which would result in increased surveillance disclosures and would give technology companies the right to publish detailed statistics on demands for user data.

Update: As noted by FOSS Patents, Apple has also filed an Amicus brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in support of a group of cases (filed by Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, and LinkedIn) requesting greater transparency. "The Court should declare that the providers have a right to disclose accurate information about the number of national security requests received and the number of user accounts affected," reads the brief.

TechCrunch also notes that Apple has cleverly specified in the report that it has not "received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act" and would "expect to challenge" such an order if served. If the section 215 disclosure disappears from future privacy reports, it will potentially serve as a "warrant canary" indication that Apple did indeed receive an order under section 215.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All 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

sigma8 Avatar
111 months ago
Gotta love how the United States figures are a vague "0-1000". Maybe none, maybe 5. Maybe 1000. Can't really say.

I live in such a transparent place. Go go government.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Winni Avatar
111 months ago
If you really didn't have freedom, you wouldn't have the opportunity to say you didn't have freedom. ;)

Without privacy, there can be no freedom - and the American government is taking away that privacy from the entire population of the world. Just ask yourself how free you would feel if the NSA installed microphones and video cameras in your house - because that is exactly what they are doing behind their smoke screen.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
unobtainium Avatar
111 months ago
Yes, yes there is. Look up "National Security Letters (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_security_letter)". The US Federal Government has a subpoena process where the target of the subpoena can't acknowledge the request was made at all. They can't tell the subject of the subpoena (the individual Apple customer whose personal information was requested,) they can't tell *ANYONE*. They can't even acknowledge that they have received one of these letters.

The process for appealing these is very secretive, and it is extremely difficult to get permission to even acknowledge you have received such a letter - much less any actual detail about it.

See the uproar over Lavabit (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/10/lavabits-appeal-were-actually-not-required-to-wiretap-our-own-users/) - it took them over two months of extreme pressure by their lawyers to get permission to acknowledge that they had gotten one of these requests. And most likely, the only reason they got permission to publish was because they chose to shut down their company rather than comply with the request. That shut down (which, at the time, they could not comment why they had shut down,) got a lot of press. Everyone assumed it was because of a "secret subpoena", so it did no harm to acknowledge it. (In the end, even though they shut down their company, they still had to comply with the request, despite many efforts to avoid it.)

Thank you for making an informed post. Most of these replies are incredibly naive.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
50548 Avatar
111 months ago
Kudos to Apple for being as transparent as possible on this - but of course one has to paraphrase Phil Schiller, given that the only "obscure" exception in that report is the USG's "data":

"Land of the free" MY ASS.

Now where is Ron Paul when we need him?
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonAppleSeed Avatar
111 months ago
If you really didn't have freedom, you wouldn't have the opportunity to say you didn't have freedom. ;)

The best prisons, are built without bars
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TehFalcon Avatar
111 months ago
soooooooo.. what the hell does 0-1000 mean?

Sounds like a coverup. They may have given them nothing, or it all.

All the other countries have detailed information, then the US is just a range of data??? Come on now.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...