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Apple Discloses Record Number Of US Government Data Requests

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

US government ramps up national security data requests for Apple, despite uneasy relationship

Apple has revealed in its latest transparency report that the US government is now seeking a record number of so called national security requests for data.

Apple fulfils these requests in nearly all cases, but the iPad maker does have a somewhat complicated relationship with the US government and law enforcement following its refusal to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook.

Apple logo

Regular Requests

In its latest transparency report for the first six months of this year, Apple received 30,814 requests worldwide for data from 233,052 devices, and provided data 80 percent of the time (in 23,856 cases).

To be fair Apple does object frequently to government data requests, but ALL US firms can be compelled on national security grounds to hand over data on their servers when requested by US officials.

Apple, like other US tech firms, is also not allowed to disclose the specific number of requests received, so it reveals the narrowest range of requests it can.

It is worth noting that these ‘normal’ data requests for data were slightly down compared to requests during the same time period last year.

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National Security

However Apple has received a much higher number of national security requests that include orders received under FISA and National Security Letters.

Apple said it has received 13,250 – 13,499 National Security Orders affecting 9,000 to 9,249 accounts during the first six months of this year.

That’s up from 2,750 – 2,999 orders affecting 2,000 to 2,249 accounts received during the first half of 2016.

And in the last six months of 2016 (July to December), it received 5,750 to 5,999 government national security data requests.

Google in comparison last week revealed that it had received up to 499 NSLs affecting between 1,000 and 1,499 accounts.

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