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Apple is creating an online portal for law enforcement data requests

It’s also expanding its law enforcement training platform.
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David Gray / Reuters

Apple and law enforcement have had a contentious relationship, frequently butting heads over what level of access Apple should provide officials when approached. The issue came into a rather public spotlight in 2016 when the FBI took Apple to court over its refusal to unlock an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter. But, in an effort to work with officials, Apple has provided training for law enforcement officers on what sorts of data are available from Apple and the legal processes for obtaining it. Now, it's expanding that program and developing an online portal through which officials can submit requests for data.

The company shared its plans for these new efforts in a letter to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), which was obtained by CNET. In it, Kate Adams, Apple general counsel, cites a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies that detailed challenges law enforcement faces when it comes to cybersecurity and digital devices. "The report's survey of law enforcement shows that understanding what data exists, which service provider has access to it and how to obtain and use available data are the most pressing challenges for investigators," writes Adams. "I am encouraged by the report's recommendations and believe that the new initiatives we are implementing will help address these challenges."

Apple plans to launch an online portal for law enforcement agencies through which officers can submit "lawful requests for data, track outstanding requests and obtain responsive data from Apple." Agents will have to apply for authentication credentials, which allow them to submit legal requests online. The company is also expanding its law enforcement training efforts, putting together a team focused on training law enforcement around the world and developing an online training platform that mirrors the current in-person training efforts. "This module will allow Apple to reach a larger array of international law enforcement agencies and ensure that our company's information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape," says the letter.

The portal is expected to launch later this year.

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