Apple confirms five requests about Irish-based accounts
Company reveals number of disclosures made in first six months but says it ‘strongly opposes’ US gag order
Apple published details of the number of requests for information it received from US law enforcement authorities in the first six months of 2013. Photograph: Craig Warga/Bloomberg
Apple received five requests from law enforcement authorities in the first six months of this year to disclose information about the accounts of Irish residents, and a further 102 requests relating to 379 Apple devices here.
Figures published by the company yesterday show it received about 5,500 information requests from law enforcement agencies between January and the end of June.
Authorities in 43 countries demanded information about roughly 40,000 Apple accounts or devices. The company did not comply with all the requests.
Apple said it had complied to some extent with 88 per cent of the requests it received from US agencies about its customers’ devices.
It did not disclose the extent to which it complied with requests from agenciesin the United States about Apple accounts.
Typically, the requests about devices relate to stolen iPhones, but local law enforcement authorities must go through US authorities because the content is hosted on servers within the US.
Apple said it was not allowed by the US government to disclose “except in broad ranges” the number of national security orders, the number of accounts directly affected, or whether content such as emails was disclosed.
It said it strongly opposed this “gag order” by the US government and that it had sought relief from the restrictions in meetings with the White House, the US attorney general, politicians and the courts.
A total of five law enforcement requests regarding people residing in Ireland received and Apple disclosed data in the case of three of those accounts. It said it objected in two cases. What it described as “non-content” data was disclosed in two cases and no data was disclosed in the case of three accounts.
Some 102 requests relating to 379 Apple devices in Ireland were received from US law enforcement authorities.
The company said such requests frequently arose where customers asked the police to assist them with a lost or stolen iPhone or when law enforcement authorities had recovered a shipment of stolen devices. It said many of the device requests were initiated by its own customers and that they never included national security-related requests.
“The most common account requests involve robberies and other crimes or requests
from law enforcement officers searching for missing persons or children, finding a
kidnapping victim, or hoping to prevent a suicide,” the company said.
It said responding to an account request usually involved providing 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. We consider these requests very carefully and only provide account content in extremely limited circumstances.”
“We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers,” Apple said on its website.
“We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form.”
The company received between 1,000 and 2,000 account requests about US residents. It would only say that it disclosed data in between ‘0 and 1,000’ cases.
Some 127 requests relating to 141 accounts in the UK were received and data was disclosed in 19 of those. Apple said it objected in 77 cases. Non-content data was disclosed in 80 cases in relation to the UK-based accounts, while no data was disclosed in 22 cases.
Additional reporting: New York Times