As the privacy debate surrounding technology continues to make its rounds in recent news, Apple’s stance on privacy and security hasn’t changed, especially when it involves law enforcement.
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law enforcement Stories April 19, 2016
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 …
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law enforcement Stories February 1, 2016
BlackBerry phones were once the default choice for enterprise, the combination of physical keyboard and secure messaging facility the two key selling-points. Those days are long gone.
The company dismissed the iPhone when it was launched in 2007, claiming that touchscreen phones could never compete with physical keyboards – before doing a U-turn by launching its own touchscreen phone less than a year later. A series of major service outages and a failure to deliver the promised BlackBerry 10 in 2011 sealed the company’s fate as a major player, and it today appears set to completely cede the secure messaging space to Apple.
BlackBerry CEO John Chen effectively admitted in December that the company had a ‘backdoor’ into its supposedly secure messaging system, and the company has now stated that it will this year make only Android phones – a platform not noted for its security credentials. This shortly after Microsoft’s Windows Phone looked even more irrelevant, the company reporting that revenues had halved year-on-year …
law enforcement Stories September 8, 2015
DOJ and FBI officials say Apple & other tech companies ‘winning PR battle’ over data privacy
Some law enforcement officials are frustrated that Apple and other tech companies appear to be winning the PR battle over data privacy, reports the NYT.
Some Justice and F.B.I. officials have been frustrated that the White House has not moved more quickly or been more outspoken in the public relations fight that the tech companies appear to be winning, the law enforcement officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the private conversations.
The comments came in the wake of a DOJ drugs and guns investigation where the agency obtained a court order to obtain iMessages between suspects, and Apple responded that it was unable to comply as end-to-end encryption is used, meaning that Apple has no way to decrypt the communications. Tim Cook said of iMessages a year ago that the content is “encrypted and we don’t have the key.”
There has long been tension between Apple and law enforcement agencies over encryption, Apple arguing that its customers right to privacy outweighs the right of law enforcement agencies to intercept communications – a stance strengthened by the Snowden revelations into large-scale electronic surveillance by governments. Law enforcement officials have become increasingly strident and hyperbolic in their statements on the subject.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder said last year that less stringent protection would still “adequately protect personal privacy,” FBI Director James Comey claimed that Apple’s encryption was “putting people beyond the law,” the DOJ suggested that iPhone encryption could eventually lead to the death of a child” and Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr, said that the iPhone would be “the terrorists’ communication device of choice.”
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The Washington Post reports that Apple is one of several tech companies planning change the way it handles government requests for customer information in the near future. According to the Post, Apple will begin notifying any customer whose information is requested by law enforcement later this month.
Microsoft, Facebook, and Google are also adjusting their own policies accordingly. The companies say that users have a right to know when their data is being turned over to officials. The government, on the other hand, argues that this could give criminals under investigation a chance to fight back, cover their tracks, and avoid being caught.