Before We Get Started
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If you thought that politicians are unable to obtain access to every bit of information on your Apple device, think again. According to Apple’s transparency report for the six months from 1st January to 30th June 2017, it received no less than 30,814 requests for the release of data from governments across the world — and Apple complied with 80% of these requests. This affected more than 233,000 Apple devices.
In the US alone, the company complied with 80% of the 4,479 requests for data it received from the government.
These figures are actually lower than last year, but this year Apple received a lot more national security requests, including orders received under National Security Letters and FISA. These were all highly targeted requests, with no orders being received for bulk data.
Apple says that it tries to be as open as possible in its reports, but legalities prohibit it from revealing specific numbers as far as national security request are concerned — it can only publish a range with upper and lower limits.
The firm received between 13,250 and 13,499 National Security Orders, which affected between 9,000 and 9,249 accounts. The figures represent a sharp increase from the orders for information it received during the first six months of last year, which fell between 2,750 and 2,999.
In recent times, Apple has stepped up its efforts to be more transparent about the kind of data which governments across the globe are regularly asking it to release, and in the last two transparency reports it provided more detailed information than usual.
Along with the gross number of National Security Orders and device requests, Apple also regularly releases information on a wide range of categories in response to government requests related to emergency situations such as stolen devices, missing children, account restriction/deletion, fraud, account preservation and civil non-government cases.