Apple's Latest Transparency Report Shows Spike in U.S. Government Data Requests

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Apple last night released its latest transparency report [PDF] outlining government data requests from July 1 to December 31, 2016. According to the data, which features several new request categories, Apple is making an effort to be as clear as possible about the types of information governments around the world have asked for. Apple's report is the most detailed report the company has produced yet.

Worldwide, Apple received 30,184 device requests, covering 151,105 devices. Apple provided data for 21,737 device requests, which equates to a 72 percent response rate. In the U.S. specifically, Apple responded to 3,335 requests out of 4,268 (78 percent). According to Apple, device-based requests cover fraud investigations as well as customers who have asked law enforcement to help locate lost or stolen devices.

Apple received 2,392 financial identifier requests worldwide, covering 21,249 devices. Apple provided information for 1,821 of the requests, which are related to cases where law enforcement officials are working on behalf of customers who have asked for help with fraudulent credit card activity.

When it comes to worldwide government account requests, Apple received 2,231, rejecting 175 of those, and providing no data for 471. Non-content data was provided for 1,350 requests, and content was offered up in 410 cases. A total of 8,880 accounts were affected.

In the United States, Apple says it received between 5750 and 5999 National Security Requests under FISA and National Security Letters, which affected 4750 to 4999 accounts. Apple is not allowed to provide specific numbers, but offers up the narrowest range permissible by law.


U.S. National Security requests increased significantly in the second half of 2016 compared to the first half of the year. In its first 2016 transparency report, Apple said it received 2750 to 2999 National Security orders affecting 2000 to 2249 accounts.

According to the data, Apple also received one "declassified" National Security Letter from the FBI. National Security Letters are traditionally kept secret via a gag order that prevents companies from sharing information about them, but following the USA Freedom Act, the rules have been loosened and tech companies are now able to publish National Security Letters when declassified. Apple is able to publish the content of the letter, but has not done so.

Apple's data is broken down into multiple additional categories, covering government requests for emergencies such as missing children, account deletion/restriction requests, and account preservation requests, all of which can be viewed directly in the report. The company also provides more information on government account requests by legal process type, including search warrant, wiretap orders, subpoenas, pen register/trap and trace orders, and other types of court orders.

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Article Link: Apple's Latest Transparency Report Shows Spike in U.S. Government Data Requests
 

macTW

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According to Apple, device-based requests cover fraud investigations as well as customers who have asked law enforcement to help locate lost or stolen devices.
Don't forget this when you get shocked or scared that apple complies to 72%+ of requests. Most are small and insignificant to personal security.
 

theheadguy

macrumors 65816
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Has anyone calculated the requests per capita? To me, that would be much more informative and useful than the raw data opined on here.

Bracing for all of the armchair lawyers with dual specializations in privacy and homeland security.
 

69Mustang

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Don't forget this when you get shocked or scared that apple complies to 72%+ of requests. Most are small and insignificant to personal security.
Why would anyone get shocked or scared? Anyone reading the .pdf will readily understand what the statistics mean. Even if they don't, Apple provides easily understood explanations for each category and each sub-category. The report stands on it's own without the need to defend it or make accusations based on it. It just is what it is. Plenty of companies generate these.
 
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OldSchoolMacGuy

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Has anyone calculated the requests per capita? To me, that would be much more informative and useful than the raw data opined on here.

Bracing for all of the armchair lawyers with dual specializations in privacy and homeland security.
Why in the world does per capita matter one bit? Take the number of requests, divide by the US population of 321.4 million, move the decimal. .0015%. There's your answer. You're so much more informed now. :rolleyes:

Per capita doesn't tell us a thing. The point is simply that they're increasing a bit, though still not that many requests (although MacRumors as always tries hard to sensationalize everything in order to drive more web traffic and outrage).
 
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MRrainer

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I am shocked about the number of NSLs and FISA warrants.

It would be interesting to know the absolute number of NSLs issued in the years before 9/11 and after.
I can't imagine there were that many even in the McCarthy era.
 

theheadguy

macrumors 65816
Apr 26, 2005
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Why in the world does per capita matter one bit? Take the number of requests, divide by the US population of 321.4 million, move the decimal. .0015%. There's your answer. You're so much more informed now. Per capita doesn't tell us a thing. The point is simply that they're increasing a bit, though still not that many requests (although MacRumors as always tries hard to sensationalize everything in order to drive more web traffic and outrage).
Because with additional perspectives from some data analysis you can derive additional points from the data and article, not just the simplistic or sensationalized points that satisfy you.
 

ThunderSkunk

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We have a network of computers that can access the internet, and a seperate quarantined network of computers that are physically not connected to those machines or the internet whatsoever, for high-security projects and to ensure our cnc machines and other critical systems stay impervious to hacking or stuxnet-like malware run amok. The "internet of things" can go take a flying leap.

It seems to me this is what anyone concerned about their privacy would do as well. Keep your sensitive data on a strictly offline computer, and use essentially a dumb terminal to access the internet. Have no accounts, and obfuscate your digital identity with misinformation wherever possible to screw things up. It really wouldn't take much effort, just a decision to not put all your info on a platter and then complain when it's a smorgasbord and Uncle Sam or the Kremlin (same thing now?) come along and make a meal out of it.

Probably too late for Facebook and google users though.
 
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Dilster3k

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Love the transparency, Apple was always a stand out in this department; and the main reason why data whores like Google and Facebook are disgusting.
 
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Weaselboy

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I am shocked about the number of NSLs and FISA warrants.

It would be interesting to know the absolute number of NSLs issued in the years before 9/11 and after.
I can't imagine there were that many even in the McCarthy era.
National Security Letters did not exist before 9/11. They were authorized by the Patriot Act shortly after 9/11.
 
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DVD9

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Green Zone problems.

Medicaid and food stamps targeted for a massive slashing. Democrat leaders have publicly said single payer health care will never happen in the USA.
 

Dwalls90

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And the patriot act was one of the worst invasions of privacy in recent decades and has provided no real benefit.
It's virtually impossible to prove that to be true. When the plans of violent organizations or individuals are foiled, they aren't touted on national television. Conversely, negative incidents always are.

I could care less if the government sees what I text my significant other, if it means potentially protecting the lives of people I care about (or people I've never met before).[/QUOTE]
 
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Xgm541

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And the patriot act was one of the worst invasions of privacy in recent decades and has provided no real benefit.
I'm in no way condoning the patriot act, but you can't measure things that didn't happen, so the benefit could be nothing (as you say), or it could be substantial. We don't know.
 
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WRChris

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AFAIK, it created a lot of jobs in Virginia, Maryland and elsewhere in the country ...
Government jobs. So every penny earned is taken from taxpayer dollars. Makes sense to me
[doublepost=1495570938][/doublepost]
It's virtually impossible to prove that to be true. When the plans of violent organizations or individuals are foiled, they aren't touted on national television. Conversely, negative incidents always are.

I could care less if the government sees what I text my significant other, if it means potentially protecting the lives of people I care about (or people I've never met before).
No one cares that you don't care about your data. That doesn't make it right for the people who do not want their privacy invaded. You can say privacy does not exist but I do not accept that. Privacy hasn't existed for a fraction of our countries history and everyone thinks there is no repealing a ludicrous set of "laws". We do not have to prove it's(patriot act) been a failure, where is the proof of its success? A handful of arrests does not make up for trampling every single citizens privacy.
 
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