by Anton Shilov
06/18/2013 | 11:08 PM
Apple has issued a statement where it explains how it works with the U.S. law enforcement organizations and how it reveals data when requested. As it turns out, the company received between 4 and 5 thousands requests from government agencies in half a year. Apple did not provide any direct access to customers’ data and fulfilled as few requests as possible. Moreover, Apple did not provide any access to FaceTime and iMessage conversations.
“We first heard of the government’s ‘Prism’ program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6,” a statement by Apple reads.
Apple does not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order. Like several other companies, Apple had asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests it received related to national security and how it handles them.
From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4000 and 5000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9000 and 10000 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, Apple’s legal team conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, Apple retrieves and delivers the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities. In fact, from time to time when Apple sees inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, it will refuse to fulfill it.
Apple claims it has always placed a priority on protecting its customers’ personal data, and it does not collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which Apple does not provide to law enforcement or any other group because Apple does not retain it.
For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, Apple do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.
“We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers’ privacy as they expect and deserve,” stated Apple.