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Apple sees dramatic surge in US national security requests, no declassified letters

Between January and the end of June Apple received somewhere between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests from the U.S. government, including orders under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance (FISA) Court and national security letters, Apple revealed this week in its latest transparency report.

The figure is much larger than the first half of 2016, when Apple saw between 2,750 and 2,999 orders. This week's report (PDF) noted that as usual, Apple is only allowed to disclose requests in batches of 250.

The number of affected accounts also went up, from between 2,000 and 2,249 to around 9,000 to 9,249. Not a single national security letter has been declassified this year, but such documents — which don't require a judge's approval, and focus on metadata — are often paired with gag orders.

A single letter was declassified in the second half of 2016, and was also the first the company officially acknowledged.

Apple recently revamped its Privacy minisite to tout its credentials. The company is known to be compliant in turning over data when it receives what it considers a legitimate legal request, however, and indeed Apple said that for the first half of 2017, it provided device data about 80 percent of the time in the U.S., and 77 percent overall.

Device requests actually declined somewhat year-over-year, to 30,814 globally and 4,479 in the U.S. These affected 232,052 and 8,958 devices, respectively.