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

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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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Apple granted temporary relief from external monitor in ebooks antitrust dispute

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In what is quickly becoming the next big ongoing back and forth between Apple and [insert third party here] of 2014, a new development has unfolded in the antitrust dispute over Apple’s iBooks practices. Michael Bromwich, the external monitor assigned to ensure Apple complies to antitrust laws relating to its iBooks program, has been temporarily removed, Reuters reports, following an “administrative stay” granted to Apple following a recent complaint filed by the Cupertino tech company against the attorney.

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Using Steve Jobs email as evidence, DOJ says Apple changed in-app purchase policy to retaliate against Amazon

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As first spotted by GigaOm, the US Department of Justice has submitted a revised remedy proposal in the ongoing ebook case that previously found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to control ebook pricing. While much of the proposal remains the same as the proposal it first submitted at the beginning of this month, the report points out that the DOJ has added more information and a Steve Jobs email as an exhibit showing that Apple changed its in-app purchasing policies specifically “to retaliate against Amazon for competitive conduct that Apple disapproved of.”

While referencing the email above in which Steve Jobs and Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller discuss forcing Amazon to go through Apple’s payment system, the DOJ claims Apple “misrepresented the factual circumstances” since it allows other retailers to bypass its 30% cut: Read more

DOJ says publishers once again colluding as Apple faces ITC/patent cases today

This afternoon, Apple and the DOJ will be in court to decide the fate of the agency model implementation in the iBookstore. The court has already ruled that Apple has been working with publishers to price-fix and raise the prices of ebooks, but now a punishment must be determined.

This morning, the DOJ responded to publishers’ concerns about the remedies and claimed that, since they are even responding together, they have shown once again how they are banded together (PDF of full response - via GigaOM):

Indeed, the very fact that the Publisher Defendants have banded together once again, this time to jointly oppose two provisions in the Proposed Final Judgment that they believe could result in lower ebook prices for consumers, only highlights why it is necessary to ensure that Apple (and hopefully other retailers) can discount ebooks and compete on retail price for as long as possible.

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DOJ proposes settlement in Apple ebook price fixing case: end current agreements, link to other stores

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After reaching settlements with just about every publisher involved in the long-running Apple/Amazon e-book price fixing case, The United States Department of Justice today published its proposal to end the case with Apple after finding the company guilty of conspiring to fix ebook prices during trial earlier this month:

“The court found that Apple’s illegal conduct deprived consumers of the benefits of e-book price competition and forced them to pay substantially higher prices,” said Bill Baer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division.  “Under the department’s proposed order, Apple’s illegal conduct will cease and Apple and its senior executives will be prevented from conspiring to thwart competition in the future.”

Among the key points in the proposal: Read more

US DOJ/States wins e-book pricing case against Apple, damages to follow

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Update: Apple provided a comment to AllThingsD and confirmed it will appeal the decision:

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations. When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.”

Reuters reports that a judge just ruled that Apple conspired to raise the retail prices of e-books and said a trial for damages will soon follow:

The decision by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote[pictured, right] in Manhattan is a victory for the U.S. government and various states, which the judge said are entitled to injunctive relief. The publishers have already settled with the federal government on e-book pricing. Cote ruled after a non-jury trial that ended on June 20.

Apple warned that a guilty verdict in its e-book price-fixing case could have a negative impact on how digital media deals are negotiated in the US and Apple CEO Tim Cook even called the suit ‘bizarre’:

The e-book case to me is bizarre. We’ve done nothing wrong there, and so we’re taking a very principled position. … We’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do. … So we’re going to fight.

The DOJ had argued that Apple had conspired to raise prices with all of the publishers and hurt rival Amazon.

Interestingly, according to the NYTimes, one of the most damning pieces of evidence in the government’s case is the video below of Steve Jobs talking with Walt Mossberg. Per Daring Fireball: Mossberg asks Jobs why someone would buy a book for $14.99 from the iBookstore when they could buy the same book from Amazon for $9.99.

Jobs: Well, that won’t be the case.

Mossberg: Meaning you won’t be $14.99, or they won’t be $9.99?

Jobs (smiling): The prices will be the same.

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