Apple: US asked for data on 2,000+ users in 2013

 

 

The U.S. government asked Apple for data on between 2,000 and 3,000 Apple users during the first half of 2013, according to Apple’s first transparency report, published Tuesday.

Companies that publish numbers about the national security-related requests for user data they receive are required by the government to publish those numbers in ranges of 1,000.

Between Jan. 1 and June 30, the U.S. government issued between 1,000 and 2,000 requests for user account data, affecting between 2,000 and 3,000 Apple users, according to the report. Apple handed over data in up to 1,000 instances.

ADVERTISEMENT
The report differentiates between requests for device information, which are typically issued when a user reports a lost device, and requests for account data, which tend to involve “information about an account holder’s iTunes or iCloud account, such as a name and an address.”

“In very rare cases, we are asked to provide stored photos or email,” Apple said in the report. 

“We consider these requests very carefully and only provide account content in extremely limited circumstances.”

Apple said that it “has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act,” which is the statute used to collect records of Americans’ phone calls.

“We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us,” the company said.

In the report, Apple differentiated itself from the companies that collect more data from their users.

“Our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers,” the company said. “We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption. … We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form.”

The company also pledged to fight for more transparency and support other tech giants in their legal fight for more transparency around government surveillance of electronic communications.

Apple said it filed an amicus brief in the suit against the U.S. government at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court brought by Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and LinkedIn, asking for the ability to share more information about the government requests it receives for user data. 

“We have reported all the information we are legally allowed to share, and Apple will continue to advocate for greater transparency about the requests we receive,” the company said.

Last week, Apple — along with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, LinkedIn and AOL — announced its support for the USA Freedom Act, which would limit the NSA’s surveillance powers.