Earlier this month Apple announced its decision to notify customers of law enforcement requests for user information. Today the company also published a new set of guidelines for law enforcement officials regarding how it will handle such requests, what types of information can be obtained, and more.
Most of the document contains information regular customers won’t ever need to know, but for those interested in Apple’s participation in the legal process will find a wealth of information here. The document also confirms once again that Apple will notify users in most cases where law enforcement requests their personal information:
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Apple will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by a court order Apple receives (e.g., an order under 18 U.S.C. §2705(b)), or by applicable law or where Apple, in its sole discretion, believes that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an identifiable individual or group of individuals or in situations where the case relates to child endangerment.
A frequently-asked questions section includes answers to a variety of common concerns, including whether Apple can (or will) intercept user emails and other communications, including iMessage and FaceTime calls:
Can Apple intercept users’ communications pursuant to a Wiretap Order?
Apple can intercept users’ email communications, upon receipt of a valid Wiretap Order. Apple cannot intercept users’ iMessage or FaceTime communications as these communications are end-to-end encrypted.
Much of the information is pretty straightforward: Apple can’t give law enforcement officials the passcode to a locked iOS device, geolocation data for active iOS devices is not stored by Apple and thus cannot be turned over to law enforcement, and so on.
You can find the entire lengthy document on Apple’s legal web page.