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Apple To Inform Customers When Government Is Spying

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Amid the National Security Agency US spying controversy, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) recently published a new set of guidelines regarding their user’s privacy and the government.

Apple customers to receive notification of government spying

In a policy change, Apple will now notify their customers when the computer firm receives law enforcement requests for user data.

The new rules, posted yesterday to Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s website late Wednesday, could reflect a concern for privacy and the US government overstepping its limits with regards to constitutional protections of citizens.

“Apple will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by a court order Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) receives (e.g., an order under 18 U.S.C. §2705(b)), or by applicable law or where Apple, in its sole discretion, believes that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an identifiable individual or group of individuals or in situations where the case relates to child endangerment,” the guidelines state.

NSA, national security issues exempt

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s new rules are specific in regards to how agencies should file their request and what information they could expect to receive upon the receipt of a valid search warrant.

In regards to user data, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) specifically says it can extract active user-generated data from native apps on passcode-locked iOS such as SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. What it can’t provide, however, is email, calendar entries, or any third-party app data.  The company can only perform data extraction from devices running iOS 4 or later “in good working order” at its Cupertino, CA headquarters. Apple also said that upon the receipt of a valid wiretap order, it can intercept users’ email communications but not their iMessage or FaceTime communications because those communications are encrypted.

Apple’s guidelines do not apply to requests made outside the US.

Several tech giants who silently complied with the NSA, including Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), have indicated they planned to expand their policies on notifying customers whose data has been requested by law enforcement. The customer notifications apparently wouldn’t apply to requests made by the NSA, or requests involving national security letters and administrative subpoenas issued by the FBI, according to a Washington Post report.

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