Apple released its Report on Government Information Requests today, outlining just how many times different law enforcement agencies around the world have asked the company for data about its customers.
While transparency reports are nothing new in the tech industry, Apple’s report comes with a few wrinkles. Because so much of its business has to do with its hardware, Apple separated out requests for account information, including iTunes and iCloud accounts, and hardware information, including things like serial numbers, or the contact information someone used to register an Apple device.
Here’s a look at the full table of account requests. (Click for larger version.)
While it’s also nothing new, one of the curious things about the data Apple revealed in its disclosure is that the United States is literally the only government in the world that requires Apple list its requests in ranges of 1000 rather than include the actual number of requests it receives. That’s because of the secrecy behind National Security Letters and requests from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which is responsible for authorizing some of the NSA’s bulk collection programs.
In addition, Apple said that it has not received any requests for data under section 215 of the Patriot Act, which extends the reach of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to handle requests for digital data. Section 215 is also the rationale behind the NSA’s PRISM program, one of the many programs revealed by leaker Edward Snowden. The company said that if it did receive any requests, it would “expect to challenge such an order” if it received one.
Now, it could just be that iCloud, Mail and iMessage haven’t caught on with those the NSA seeks to target. Or perhaps, they’ve found another way to get the information that they want.
In addition to the report, Apple said that it has filed an Amicus brief with the FISC arguing for greater transparency, and plans to file another brief for a related case going before the Ninth Circuit.