Apple announces data request figures

Apple is the latest in a growing line of large-scale companies to have announced how many requests it has received for customer data.

Concerns arose in the US a number of days ago, after claims were made that government agencies were demanding information from technology companies relating to customer activities.

Apple assures its customers that the first it heard about this was when it was confronted by news organisations earlier this month – and assured them that action is always taken to protect their data.

No government agency is given direct access to servers, the technology giant emphasised, and any request must be supported by a court order.

As a result, Apple revealed that between December 1 2012 and May 31 this year, between 4,000 and 5,000 requests were received from US law enforcement for access to customer data.

The most common type of request came from police investigating robberies and other crimes, although there were also incidents relating to missing children and trying to locate an individual suffering from Alzheimer's disease.

In the interests of vulnerability management, the legal team at Apple will consider each request based on its own merit – only the bare minimum of data is ever supplied to authorities.

The company explained that conversations that have taken place over FaceTime and iMessage are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that they cannot be accessed other than by the sender or recipient.

Apple is unable to decrypt this data and it is not stored anywhere – this also includes information relating to a customer's location, or any map searches that they may have carried out.

Other companies to have released their data over recent days include the likes of Facebook and Microsoft, with the former saying that it had received requests relating to 18,000 accounts over a six-month period.

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