Apple to Launch a Global Law Enforcement Web Portal to Streamline Data Requests by End of 2018 [Updated]

Apple this week announced it will be launching a dedicated web portal by the end of 2018 for authenticated law enforcement officers to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from the company.

police lights

Photo: Alejandro Mejía Greene via Flickr/Creative Commons

Apple also said it is building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers, which the company believes will improve its ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies around the world. This will include the development of an online training module for officers.

The web portal will be available globally as part of Apple's new Law Enforcement Support Program, which the company detailed on the Government Information Requests page of its privacy website this week.

Apple says the program will allow it to uphold its fundamental commitment to protect the security and privacy of its users:

We believe that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in keeping our society safe and we've always maintained that if we have information we will make it available when presented with valid legal process. In recognizing the ongoing digital evidence needs of law enforcement agencies, we have a team of dedicated professionals within our legal department who manage and respond to all legal requests received from law enforcement agencies globally. Our team also responds to emergency requests globally on a 24/7 basis.

We publish legal process guidelines for government and law enforcement agencies globally and we publish transparency reports twice a year detailing the types of requests we receive and how we respond. In addition, we regularly provide training to law enforcement officers on the types of data available from Apple and how to obtain it consistent with our legal process guidelines.

By the end of 2018 we will begin the launch of an online portal for authenticated law enforcement officers globally to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from Apple.

We are building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers globally, which will significantly increase our ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies. This will include the development of an online training module for officers. This will assist Apple in training a larger number of law enforcement agencies and officers globally, and ensure that our company's information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape.

Apple is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users. The above developments and the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment.

Apple requires law enforcement and government officials to follow applicable laws when requesting customer information and data. If they do, Apple complies by providing the narrowest possible set of data relevant to the request.

That information can include device identifiers, customer service records, and iCloud content such as emails, stored photos, documents, contacts, calendars, bookmarks, Safari browsing history, Apple Maps search history, iMessages backups, and iOS device backups, according to Apple's guidelines.

Where and when legally required, Apple may also provide basic customer information such as name, physical address, email address, phone number, and IP address, along with customer service records and Find My iPhone logs.

Apple ensures that it has never created a backdoor or master key to any of its products or services, and never will. Perhaps the biggest example of this was Apple's refusal to create a loophole for the FBI to brute force their way into the passcode-locked iPhone owned by the shooter in the 2015 San Bernardino attack.

Twice per year, Apple publishes a transparency report that outlines how many data-related requests it has received from law enforcement, government, and private party officials, both in the United States and abroad.

In the United States, during the second half of 2017, for example, Apple received 4,450 requests for 15,168 devices. Apple provided data in 3,548 cases, or approximately 80 percent of the time. Worldwide, Apple received a total of 29,718 requests covering 309,362 devices, providing data 79 percent of the time.

Update: Apple is launching these initiatives in response to a recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the cybersecurity challenges and digital evidence needs of U.S. law enforcement agencies.

Apple has adopted all of the recommendations in the CSIS report and, on Tuesday, Apple's Senior Vice President and General Counsel Katherine Adams sent a letter to U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) announcing the launch of several new programs meant to help law enforcement agencies.

The full letter was obtained by MacRumors:


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

Bornee35 Avatar
51 months ago
Theres a huge difference between leaving the door unlocked and installing a doorbell. Requests can be denied.
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nexusrule Avatar
51 months ago
That's actually quite smart. More initiatives they proactively take to collaborate with police forces, when applicable, more strength their arguments will have when they feel they don't have to release private data.
[doublepost=1536241441][/doublepost]
Interesting coming from a company that is actively advocating they are NOT collecting private data about us through their services.
Maybe you should inform yourself about how these things actually works.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ChrisCW11 Avatar
51 months ago
Interesting coming from a company that is actively advocating they are NOT collecting private data about us through their services.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
now i see it Avatar
51 months ago
The back door begins
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
chrono1081 Avatar
51 months ago
Everyone is so bent out of shape already, this isn't some back door being created, its simply a portal to filter requests through which I'm surprised they didn't have before.

This is a smarter way to do things. Police were still doing requests before, they're just doing them a different way now.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mozumder Avatar
51 months ago
hopefully it's the most minimal thing they could do to comply with any laws. Apple shouldn't send any more information than it legally needs to.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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