Apple today posted a report outlining the number of requests it has received from Government entities seeking information about individual users and/or specific devices. The report reflects all of the information Apple is legally allowed to divulge while specifically noting that they will continue to campaign for the ability to be even more transparent going forward.
The report reads in part:
At the time of this report, the U.S. government does not allow Apple to disclose, except in broad ranges, the number of national security orders, the number of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content, such as emails, was disclosed. We strongly oppose this gag order, and Apple has made the case for relief from these restrictions in meetings and discussions with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the courts. Despite our extensive efforts in this area, we do not yet have an agreement that we feel adequately addresses our customers' right to know how often and under what circumstances we provide data to law enforcement agencies.
For those interested in the nuts and bolts behind Government information requests, Apple details how that process works.
First, any Government looking for information about specific users or devices must come equipped with a court order. Following that, Apple's legal team reviews the order to ensure that everything is above board. Notably, if there is any question as to the legality or scope of an order, Apple's legal team will challenge it.
"Only when we are satisfied that the court order is valid and appropriate," the report reads, "do we deliver the narrowest possible set of information responsive to the request.
Apple also adds that the "vast majority" of the information requests it receives involve law enforcement authorities looking for information regarding lost or stolen devices. That being the case, only a "small fraction" of the information requests sent Apple's way involve personally identifiable information.
We believe it is important to differentiate these categories and report them individually. Device requests and account requests involve very different types of data. Many of the device requests we receive are initiated by our own customers working together with law enforcement. Device requests never include national security–related requests.
All that said, below are two charts Apple released on Tuesday afternoon. They cover requests received from January 1, 2013 through June 30, 2013. Again, you can check out Apple's report in its entirety over here.