Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Apple Discloses Government Requests on as Many as 10,000 Accounts

NSA-Logomag380Apple is now the latest company to disclose requests by U.S. law enforcement agencies.

In a disclosure published overnight, the company said that from Dec. 1, 2012, to May 31, 2013, it had received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests affecting between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices. That works out to an average of two accounts or devices per request.

The disclosure follows similar ones by Facebook on Friday and Microsoft on Saturday. And, as with the Facebook and Microsoft disclosures, Apple has aggregated into a single bucket the number of requests it received from federal agencies like the FBI and local, state and county agencies around the country. Apple did not specify whether any of the requests were made under authority granted under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

Apple said the requests came from a range of state, federal and local agencies. Most involved police investigations into routine criminal matters like robberies, searches for missing children and attempts to prevent a suicide.

Certain kinds of information can’t be provided to law enforcement even when requested, Apple said. These include the contents of FaceTime and iMessage conversations, which are encrypted, and not retained by Apple in the first place. Requests of Siri, its voice-activated search service on the iPhone, are not logged, either.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik