Apple's Releases Transparency Report, Faces Government Limitation - The UpStream

Apple's Releases Transparency Report, Faces Government Limitation

posted Sunday Nov 10, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Apple's Releases Transparency Report, Faces Government Limitation

Another week, another transparency report. These are fun for me to read about and report because it really puts things into perspective on what companies are forced to do and what companies try to do to protect our information. With Microsoft and Yahoo among a bunch of companies reporting, it's only fitting Apple has stepped up and delivery its report this week.

For Apple's report spanning January 1st to June 30th, the company reported data requests for both account information and device information. Apple also mentions that it "has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us."

So here's the numbers. Obviously the US ranks at the top of the list, with Germany in second and interestingly enough Singapore in third for device information requests; Australia and the UK round of the to five. For the US, 3,542 requests were made for 8,605 devices and Apple provided data to 88 percent of those requests. While the number of devices seems high, Apple includes stolen shipments into this list, so that may skew some of the results.

The number of affected accounts and devices is often larger than the number of requests because law enforcement may seek information related to multiple accounts or devices. For example, some device requests related to the theft of a shipment may involve hundreds of serial numbers. In cases where no data was disclosed, Apple may have objected to a government request for legal reasons or searched our records and discovered that we have no relevant information. This category includes multiple scenarios in which no

data was disclosed.

For account information requests, the US topples over all of the other countries' requests combined, coming in at 1000-2000 requests for 2000-3000 accounts. Apparently the government won't allow Apple to disclose the real numbers, with Apple saying that,

The U.S. government has given us permission to

share only a limited amount of information about these orders, with the requirement that we combine national security orders with account-based law enforcement requests and report only a consolidated range in increments of 1000.

Again, these requests include robberies, thefts and other crimes, so the numbers may be a bit stretched. However, the fact that the US accounts for more requests than all other countries put together is quite staggering. And, since the government has restricted true disclosure on the accounts, we don't know exactly how many accounts were disclosed against how many Apple objected. Either way, the numbers are a lot lower than some from Yahoo or Microsoft, by the tens of thousands, which is very interesting considering how powerful the company's perception is.

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