US, China have made the most user data requests, says Apple's latest transparency report
Apple's latest a biannual transparency report detailing government and private party requests is here, and details many requests related to criminal activity and fraud.
Apple introduces the report with its usual commitment to user privacy and protection of data. The type of data handed over to authorities will be specific to the data requested, and unless in extreme cases, will never just hand over all data on hand. Whenever data is requested of an individual, Apple will notify them unless otherwise barred by legal action.
Several countries saw an unusually high number of device requests. These requests are made when law enforcement needs information pertaining to a specific device, and can be made for an investigation or on the behalf of a citizen.
Australia and Germany saw largely abnormal numbers due to high numbers of requests pertaining to device theft investigations. Australia requested data on over 120,000 devices alone.
The United States saw a little over 11,000 device requests, nearly half of the devices requested in the previous report. The number of reports didn't change much, showing that fewer individual devices per report were requested overall. Apple only counts a request once, and marks the request at the highest point in a single case, so if the same case requests the same device multiple times through an investigation, it is still only one request.
Account data requests are the most well known type of request and often part of a larger controversy. The United States and Chinese governments are by far requesting the most user data. Of the 37,000 requests made globally, the US and China make up 30,000, with each at a little over 15,000. Apple says the high number of requests are related to phishing and fraud investigations.
Account data requests pull all relevant data to an investigation. One such request was made part of public political drama when the US government again asked Apple to weaken its encryption. Apple responded with a vehement "no." As with all of these cases, previously seen with the San Bernardino shooting, Apple was heavily involved in helping law enforcement, including handing over all the data they had pertaining to the accounts involved.
App Store takedown requests saw a huge reduction in requests, China's dropping by more than half. The United Arab Emirates are a new addition to the chart, showing 275 apps were requested for removal. The UAE requests were "related to apps operating outside of government policies."
Apple's Transparency Report in its entirety is available on its website. In a note at the bottom of the report, Apple intends on disclosing appeals to government app takedown requests in future reports.
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