Apple had published its latest Transparency Report on Government Information Requests, covering the second half of last year. It revealed that it received over 30,000 requests last year, and complied with up to 82% of them. It is not allowed to specify the exact number of National Security Requests, but says they fell into the 1250-1499 band.
Apple breaks down the numbers by country, region and type of request. It says that most fall into what it terms device requests. Apple’s compliance here ranges from 52% in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa) and India, to 80% in the USA.
The vast majority of the requests we receive from law enforcement relate to information about lost or stolen devices, and we report these as device requests. Device requests may include requests for customer contact information provided to register a device with Apple or the date(s) the device used Apple services. We count devices based on the individual serial or IMEI numbers related to an investigation. We encourage any customer who suspects their device is stolen to contact their local law enforcement agency.
Of perhaps greater interest are account requests, where the government is asking for information ranging from names and addresses to copies of iCloud backups …
For account requests, the worldwide total initially looks quite low, at 1813, of which 1015 were in the United States. However, most requests covered multiple accounts, so the number of accounts involved totalled 12,850. Apple’s compliance here ranged from 43% in Asia Pacific to 97% in Latin America.
China topped the list for account requests at 32 requests into 6724 accounts, Apple stating that the majority of these related to phishing investigations. Apple’s compliance there was 53%. The U.S. took second place with 1015 requests into 5192 accounts, where Apple complied 82% of the time.
Apple also separated out what it terms emergency requests, where ‘Apple believes in good faith that an emergency involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires such disclosure without delay.’ There were just 178 of these worldwide, and Apple by definition complied with all of them.
Apple was last year praised by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which gave it a five-star rating, stating that the company ‘adopted every best practice we’ve identified.’ More recently, iOS 9.3 introduced a message on the lock screen, advising users of work phones when their device was being managed and tracked by their employer.
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