Apple received 30,000 data queries from security agencies in 2015, says report


Apple received some 30,000 data requests from law enforcement agencies globally in the second half of 2015, and provided information in a majority of cases, the company’s latest transparency report showed.

In the report released late Monday, Apple said it provided some data in 80 per cent of the 4,000 request from US law enforcement agencies in the July-December period.

The news comes with Apple at the center of a controversy over whether it can be compelled to help authorities decrypt devices where only the user has encryption “keys”.

The issue hit a boiling point last month when Apple refused to help the FBI weaken the operation system of an iPhone used by one of the shooters in last year’s San Bernardino killing spree. The government eventually withdrew the request, but similar cases are pending in the courts.

The latest report from Apple showed a total of 30,687 law enforcement requests from authorities around the world, involving more than 167,000 devices. That compared to some 26,000 requests in the prior six-month period affecting more than 360,000 devices.Apple said it provided at least some data in 63 per cent of the cases in its Asia-Pacific region and 52 per cent of the cases in the region that includes Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, and 80 per cent for Latin America and North America.

“When we receive an account request from law enforcement requesting a customer’s personal information, we will notify the customer a request concerning their personal data was made unless we are explicitly prohibited from doing so,” the report noted, adding that some exceptions are made “for extreme situations when we believe disclosing information could put a child or other person in serious danger”.

Apple said that any government agency “must get a search warrant” and that “our legal team carefully reviews” each one.

“We only comply with information requests once we are satisfied that the request is valid and appropriate, and then we deliver the narrowest possible set of information,” the report said.