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:
The warrant canary’s disappearance is significant because Section 215 of the Patriot Act permits the National Security Agency to demand companies to hand over their business records in secret, and is believed to be the legal foundation of the controversial PRISM program, which forced major tech companies like Google and Yahoo to participate in a data-collection scheme.
The language was originally included in Apple’s first Transparency Report published November 5, 2013, but the report notes it has since been removed in Transparency Reports covering the last half of 2013 and first half of 2014. The statement was thought to be a “warranty canary”, allowing Apple to signal that it had received requests it isn’t able to talk about by removing it from future reports. If that’s actually what happened is still unclear, however, as some suggest new Justice Department guidelines could have resulted in the removal of the language.
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Disclosure by omission….nicely done Apple
This is badass. Shout out to the person who had the idea and the guts to do this.
Tim Cook said in the Charlie Rose interview that they are not allowed to say “zero” even if that’s true. They have to say “between zero and 250.” Maybe the “never” in the previous language was in violation of that policy so they had to remove it.
Sec 215 does not appear to prevent saying you never received an order, only prevents saying you received one….this could however be stated in other sections.
This is a non-story and the details are incorrect.
The 1st report did include the language
“Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA
Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us”
However, the initial report never included a special table related to National Security Orders. i.e. Table 3 (Does not exist in the initial report). Why you ask?
If they bothered to read the initial report, it clearly states:
“At the time of this report, the U.S. government does not allow Apple to
disclose, except in broad ranges, the number of national security orders, the
number of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content, such as emails,
was disclosed. We strongly oppose this gag order, and Apple has made the case
for relief from these restrictions in meetings and discussions with the White
House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the courts. Despite
our extensive efforts in this area, we do not yet have an agreement that we feel
adequately addresses our customers’ right to know how often and under what
circumstances we provide data to law enforcement agencies.”
Thus, after this report, they obviously didn’t have an agreement and had to comply with posting the “Broad Range”. Like other companies that expressed outrage, they pushed the limit on the initial report and then reported like they were supposed to. They obviously didn’t listen to the Charlie Rose Interview because Tim Cook explicitly discusses this very issues when talking about security and privacy. States that they are only allowed to state the numbers in specific ranges.
The new report clearly states, in Table 3, that the number is 0-250, which is the lowest you can report. I think Apple made it clear in the initial report that they had no requests period. While they can’t state the same now, I would think you would hear rumblings out of Cupertino if they were issued a request. In addition, they seem to be going out of there way to make it more and more difficult, if not impossible, for the government to get any info, even if they made the request. By encrypting the info on the device in iOS8 and having no master keys. I will imagine they will turn the same focus to the cloud as well to prevent access here as well in the future.
“That could signal, according to the report, Apple’s involvement with controversial National Security Agency programs that demand data from companies:”
Bad choice of words. Involvement implies that Apple is complicit with the government to spy on people. There is a difference between complying with a court order and systematically releasing information .
cont….releasing information without an order. The law is the law no matter how one dislikes it.
“The statement was thought to be a “warranty canary”, allowing Apple to signal that it had received requests it isn’t able to talk about by removing it from future reports.”
Not to blow Apple too hard here, but if that’s true, they’re freaking geniuses.
No, Tim didn’t talk with Apple’s lawyers before implementing the original policy.
Can someone please explain to me in plain english what happened?
I’m not native and I really dont understand the meaning of “language” (the context) in this story.
You can safely replace “language” with “sentence” (or “words” or “wording”) in this context. ;-)
‘GigaOM reports that a sentence 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.’
“The sentence was originally included in Apple’s first Transparency Report published November 5, 2013, but the report notes it has since been removed in Transparency Reports covering the last half of 2013 and first half of 2014.”
The Transparency Report no longer says that Apple never received an order to hand over secret information to the NSA. Since Apple isn’t even allowed to say that it received that information by law, the silent removal of the sentence may be a legal way to tell us that the NSA did order that secret information.
Also realize that with the recent celebrity hacks it was reported that the FBI was investigating signaling a possible Apple and Government cooperation on sensitive private information. Voluntary cooperation may void the language as well depending on how the info was requested.
Not likely since a 215 request is based on protection against acts of international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities. None of which would be applicable here. Unless the person releasing the photos runs ISIS
You mean the previous article, the much-heralded Tim Cook letter and the Apple website did not have accurate information?
Knock me over with a feather.
I’m stunned. Not.
I think you misunderstood what this article is implying….
Speaking of not stunned, who could have predicted the giant sweaty loser herb02135go would show up yet again to pollute the threads with a worthless comment.
Props to them for standing up for our rights and doing things like this.