Apple provides update on government requests as tech companies reach settlement with DOJ


Just a few days later after Apple CEO Tim Cook expressed his thoughts about the NSA and data collection transparency, Apple has posted an update to its website with new information regarding account data requests. The company’s press release comes as US Department of Justice comes to a settlement with technology companies over how they are allowed to disclose information about government data requests.

A statement from the DOJ explains the agreement will allow “detailed disclosures about the number of national security orders and requests issued to communications providers, and the number of customer accounts targeted under those orders and requests including the underlying legal authorities.” Due to these new guidelines, Apple has now been able to report FISA and National Security Letters separate from law enforcement requests as show in its graphics above and below.  It also notes the new data released today replaces the U.S. data from its Feb. 5 2013 Report on Government Information Requests.

Apple-National-Security-orders-02Apple has been working closely with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the Department of Justice to advocate for greater transparency with regard to the national security orders we receive. We believe strongly that our customers have the right to understand how their personal information is being handled, and we are pleased the government has developed new rules that allow us to more accurately report law enforcement orders and national security orders in the U.S.

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that he would push congress for more transparency regarding controversial surveillance programs and how companies can disclose information related to information requests. At the time, Cook said that there was much the company couldn’t speak about due to gag orders:

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Number one, we need to be significantly more transparent. We need to say what data is being given, how many people it affects, how many accounts are affected, we need to be clear. And we have a gag order on us right now so we can’t say those things… .Much of what has been said isn’t true. There is no backdoor. The government doesn’t have access to our servers. They would have to cart us out in a box for that, and that just will not happen. We feel that strongly about it.

The full press release from Apple is below with the actual data on requests pictured above.

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  1. drtyrell969 - 9 years ago

    There are two sides to this problem. Apple disclosing information to the NSA and other agencies, which is probably very low, and Apple “preparing” data to be stolen BY the same agencies. The latter is the most common formula.

    Mac OSX prepares data via Spotlight, face recognition software features that CANNOT be turned off, and GPS scraping technology that also can’t be turned off. All the data is stored in sorted binary trees that are easily hacked by the NSA.

    The iOS / iDevices that Apple creates were the first to prohibit removing batteries, thus keeping their spying cameras, GPS, hackable access to biometric data, and microphones powered at all times. The power of this is enormous.

    Again, Apple has been very clear about not “personally” giving away information, but has never said that the data is 100% safe from intelligence agencies hacking the information from the devices as German software engineers proved within seven days of the iPhone 5s debut.

    I’m sure they don’t like this arrangement, but there are laws that force them to break Constitutional law as Steve noted before dying. My Android Galaxy Note 3 has a removable battery, but a very open OS. So I can be hacked if I don’t replace the BIOS personally, and carefully select my apps moving forward.

    Apple is held up to a higher standard due to Steve’s 1984 promise back in 1984. Sadly, Apple has become the premiere device for intelligence agencies looking for personal data both at the desktop and mobile level. Chrome will supersede this ability once it replaces Windows as a standard OS for PCs; still five years out.

    • I almost burst laughing reading this!
      You honestly believe that a company that earns money from selling your data protects your privacy? You can be careful with your apps as long as you want. If you don’t have the sourcecode, you can’t be sure. Android doesn’t stop anyone from accessing everything on your note!

      • drtyrell969 - 9 years ago

        I just said Android has nothing for security unless extremely low level measures are done. Was that not clear?

        And “turning off a phone” with the battery connected does nothing, but prohibit ME from using my phone, not from NSA from using it. Removing the battery gives one the option to leave the grid entirely.

    • Soluble Apps - 9 years ago

      You believe that turning your phone off, still leaves the camera and microphones running somehow?


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.