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Apple discloses government data requests

Apple has revealed a list of data requests it has received from governments across the globe.

The US government tops the list with 1,000 to 2,000 requests in the six months to June 30.

Apple said the US requests affected 2,000 to 3,000 accounts, adding it gave out data on zero to 1,000 accounts.

The tech giant said the most common “requests involve robberies and other crimes or requests from law enforcement officers searching for missing persons”.

It said the response usually involves disclosing information about an account holder’s iTunes or iCloud account “such as a name and an address”.

“In very rare cases, we are asked to provide stored photos or email. We consider these requests very carefully and only provide account content in extremely limited circumstances,” Apple said.

The UK was second on the list, with 127 requests. Spain, Germany and Australia also featured in the top five.

Apple has revealed a list of data requests it has received from governments across the globe

Apple has revealed a list of data requests it has received from governments across the globe

Apple added that since its main business was “not about collecting information”, the vast majority of requests it received from law enforcement agencies were about information on “lost or stolen devices”.

The company logs these requests under a separate category as “device requests” which, it said, “never include national security-related requests”.

Apple received more than 3,500 such requests in the US between January and June this year.

The tech giant also used the report to call for more freedom to disclose the details of such requests to customers.

Apple said that currently the US government did not allow it 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,” it added.

Apple said it had asked the government to ease these restrictions but so far had not seen any major changes.

“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.”

The move by tech companies came after leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed mass surveillance programmes by the National Security Agency (NSA) and associated agencies.

Apple said it had filed a letter with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court supporting a group of cases requesting greater transparency.

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