Apple opens up on gov’t data requests

Victor Barreiro Jr.

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Apple reveals some of the data pertaining to government requests for user information and how the company responded

APPLE ON CUSTOMER PRIVACY. Apple discusses some of the details regarding US government requests for data

MANILA, Philippines – Following the leak that made PRISM, the US program that monitored Internet users, a focus of international attention and the subsequent denial by web companies that they allowed US intelligence agencies to mine data from their servers, Apple has come out with a statement to offer further transparency on the requests they have received from the US government.

Apple writes that it has been authorized to share some of the numbers pertaining to requests from government agencies for information.

Apple asserts that it received between 4,000 to 5,000 requests for customer data relating to around 9,000 to 10,000 accounts or devices from US law enforcement agencies between Dec 1, 2012, and May 31, 2013. The requests came from “federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters.”

The common requests pertaining to how the data would be used was related to solving crimes, as well as “searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.”

Apple has also stated that it only gives “the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities” when it is appropriate, prioritizing data protection as much as possible.

Previously, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook asked the US government for permission to disclose more details regarding government requests for user data.

While Apple’s revelation isn’t a complete picture, as the wording describes a discussion on “some of the data” rather than all of it, Apple is likely looking at this announcement as a means to restore some users’ faith in companies that keep peoples’ information. –

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Victor Barreiro Jr.

Victor Barreiro Jr is part of Rappler's Central Desk. An avid patron of role-playing games and science fiction and fantasy shows, he also yearns to do good in the world, and hopes his work with Rappler helps to increase the good that's out there.