Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released its first transparency report indicating that the personal information of some of its users were provided to law enforcement agencies in different countries worldwide in response to requests with appropriate court orders.
The tech giant published its transparency report because it believes that its customers “have the right to understand” how the company handles their personal information. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) emphasized, “We consider it our responsibility to provide them with the best privacy protections available.”
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Apple released as much as it could, legally
The transparency report of the tech giant provides statistics regarding the requests it received from different countries on customer accounts. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it included all the information in the report that it can share legally.
According to the company, the United States government prohibits the disclosure except in broad ranges the number of national security orders, the numbers of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content such as e-mails were revealed.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) said it strongly opposed the gag order, and made its case for relief from the restrictions on meetings and discussions with the White House, heads of the different government agencies, and leaders in the congress as well as in courts.
The company simultaneously filed an Amicus brief at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA Court) to support a group of cases requesting for greater transparency with the release of its report. It intends to file another Amicus brief at the Ninth Circuit to seek greater transparency related to National Security Letters.
Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) pointed out that it provides the “narrowest possible set of information” to law enforcement agencies when it is completely satisfied that a court order demanding customer content is valid and appropriate.
Most requests were related to stolen devices
The tech giant explained that majority of requests for customer data it received from law enforcement agencies seek information about lost or stolen devices, and are logged as device requests.
Based on the transparency report, the United States requested the highest number of account information (1,000 to 2,000) and specific accounts (2,000 to 3,000), which are probably personal information registered in iTunes, Game Center, and iCloud accounts. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) disclosed data from 1,000 accounts in the country.
The report also indicated that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) revealed data from the accounts of 51 users to law enforcement agencies in the United Kingdom, 41 users to Australia, 25 users to Hong Kong, 19 users to Spain, 18 users to Italy, and 14 users to France, among others.
The company also objected to 1,000 requests from the United States, 86 requests from Germany, 79 from the United Kingdom, 77 from Spain, 49 from France, 34 from Italy, 22 from Australia, 21 from Japan as well as a few request from other countries.
Nate Cardozo, staff attorney at Electronic Frontier Foundation, commented, “Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is so secretive about everything it does, the fact that it is opening up shows that transparency really is the new standard, and the consumers are demanding it.”