Department of Justice: iPhone encryption will lead to the death of a child

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Apple and the government have long been engaged in a bitter war of words over encryption and security practices employed in Apple’s iOS devices, but a new Wall Street Journal report indicates that the Department of Justice is really starting to take the rhetoric to the next level.

According to the Journal, a DOJ official actually told Apple executives during a meeting last month that in the future the Cupertino company could eventually be directly responsible for the death of a child. Read more

Apple removes language from Transparency Reports signaling new government requests for data

Tim Cook

Just as Apple published a new letter from Tim Cook and an update on privacy and security policies, a new report points to evidence the company has recently received new government demands for user data under the Patriot Act. GigaOM reports that language previously included in Apple’s Transparency Reports noting the company had “never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act” has since been removed. That could signal, according to the report, Apple’s involvement with controversial National Security Agency programs that demand data from companies: Read more

Chinese state TV annoyed by NSA, takes it out on Apple

The WSJ reports that the state-run China Central TV has described the iPhone as a “national security concern” due to its location-tracking capabilities.

In its national noon broadcast, state-run China Central Television criticized the “frequent locations” function in Apple’s iOS 7 mobile operating system, which tracks and records the time and location of the owner’s movements. The report quoted researchers who said that those with access to that data could gain knowledge of the broader situation in China or “even state secrets” …

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Tim Cook among tech CEOs German committee may want to testify in NSA investigation

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Apple’s association with the United States National Security Agency may once again put the company in the spotlight as Germany begins to investigate the agency’s recent activity. According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, members of a German parliamentary commission want the heads of a number of US-based tech companies, including Apple, to participate in their investigation of the NSA’s involvement in monitoring German officials.

Apple, for its part, has denied direct involvement with PRISM program and repeatedly said it has not allowed the government to have direct access to its servers. Read more

NSA had almost total access to iPhones, including microphone & camera, says security researcher

The NSA could access almost all data stored on an iPhone, including location, text messages and contact lists – including the ability to activate both microphone and camera, according to a presentation by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum at the Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

Appelbaum showed what he said were leaked NSA documents in which the agency claimed to have a “100 percent success rate” at installing spyware on iPhones. The documents date back to 2008, at which point the NSA needed physical access to an iPhone to install the spyware, but a remotely-installable version was said at the time to be in development.

Even needing physical access to the phone was seemingly not a barrier to the NSA …  Read more

Apple joins tech titans in calling for government spying reform and limitations

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple has joined Microsoft, Twitter, Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, and other giants in the tech industry in calling for a reform of the NSA’s surveillance tactics. Earlier this year it was revealed that the National Security Agency was using information from these companies and more to monitor citizens across the nation without warrants.

The companies allegedly involved in the “PRISM” program denied turning over any user data to the government, but a leaked NSA slidedeck (seen above) seemed to imply the opposite.

The new collaborative campaign, called Reform Government Surveillance, cites five driving principles in its drive to curb excessive government spying:

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President Obama meets with Tim Cook, other execs over government surveillance

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U.S. President Barack Obama met with Apple CEO Tim Cook and other technology company executives today to discuss government surveillance, according to a report from Politico. Earlier this week, according to the report, the President and his staff began holding confidential meetings about surveillance tactics and topics such as the recent NSA-related controversies with company executives and other members of pertinent organizations.

Those invited were mostly senior executives, including Cook, Stephenson and Cerf, as well as representatives of groups like the Center for Democracy and Technology and Gigi Sohn, the leader of Public Knowledge, according to three sources familiar with the meeting. Each declined comment for this story.

The report names AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and former Google Vice President Vint Serf as the other technology community members involved in the meetings. Serf recently was appointed by President Obama to the National Science Board, and Serf is also known as a pioneer of the internet…

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Apple responds to accusations of sharing customer data with U.S. government

Apple published an open letter late Sunday night responding to recent allegations that the company had given customers’ personal information, including phone call logs, to the U.S. government as part of the National Security Agency’s secret “PRISM” program.

In the letter, Apple notes that the government had in fact issued several thousand requests for such information, but that Apple’s legal department had carefully examined each request and turned over only the smallest amount of information necessary, sometimes rejecting requests outright.

From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data. Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters. The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.

Apple has placed a link to the full letter at the bottom of their home page, or you can read the entire thing after the break. Read more

Apple and other tech companies deny PRISM surveillance claims, NSA says claims ‘inaccurate’ and not used domestically

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Claims made by The Washington Post that the National Security Agency was tapping into the servers of nine tech companies for details of user activity have been denied by Apple and most of the other companies alleged to be involved.

“We have never heard of PRISM,” said Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Apple. “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”

Similar denial statements have been issued by Yahoo, Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

The Post published slides from what it said was a Powerpoint presentation detailing the top-secret program, in which it was implied that the companies listed were knowing participants …  Read more