Apple issues update on U.S. government surveillance requests
Apple on Monday released an updated report regarding the company's cooperation in U.S. government surveillance initiatives, noting both national security orders and more detailed data for account information requests from law enforcement agencies.
According to the report (PDF download), Apple has been working with the White House, U.S. Attorney General, Congress and the Department of Defense to achieve greater transparency in reporting official requests for personal customer information. Apple is allowed to release more granular data after the DOJ relaxed reporting restrictions on Monday.
As seen in the chart above, Apple re-reported that it received a total of 0-249 national security orders to release information on the personal accounts of customers in its database. As per government restrictions covering public availability of such data, the company is bound to report these orders in bands of 250. No orders for bulk data were received. The data replaces that of a public report issued in November 2013.
A more detailed look of account information requests from law enforcement agencies can be seen with the updated U.S. record, which shows Apple received a total of 927 such requests specifying 2330 accounts between January 1, 2013 and June 30, 2013. Data relating to 747 accounts was released, compared to 254 requests where no data was given. The total percentage of account requests where "some data" was disclosed came out to 81 percent.
Previously, Apple was only allowed to report requests received in bands of 1,000. As noted in the document, law enforcement requests often relate to criminal investigations like robbery, theft, murder, and kidnapping.
The exact information provided to law enforcement agencies was not disclosed, though Apple points out personal conversations conducted over iMessage and FaceTime are protected via end-to-end encryption. Further, the company does not store device location data, Maps searches and Siri requests.
Monday's update comes just days after Apple CEO Tim Cook said he would "absolutely" press Congress for greater transparency on the issue of surveillance.
"From my point of view — number one — we need to be significantly more transparent," Cook said during an interview with ABC News' David Muir. "We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many people are affected. We need to be clear."