November 5, 2013 Last Updated 3:27 pm

Apple discloses government information requests received in new report

Like other big tech companies Apple has received many requests for information on account holders and device owners. Today the company issued a new report which somewhat reveals the level of government inquiries – somewhat, in that Apple is still not free to give precise information out on inquiries coming from the U.S. government, though they far outpace those from other countries.

“Like many companies, Apple receives requests from law enforcement agencies to provide customer information,” Apple’s report states. “As we have explained, any government agency demanding customer content from Apple must get a court order.1 When we receive such a demand, our legal team carefully reviews the order. If there is any question about the legitimacy or scope of the court order, we challenge it. Only when we are satisfied that the court order is valid and appropriate do we deliver the narrowest possible set of information responsive to the request.”

Apple also took quite a swipe at its competition, who are often seen as aggressively gathering information on its users.

Apple-chart-info-1-sm“Unlike many other companies dealing with requests for customer data from government agencies, Apple’s main business is not about collecting information,” Apple’s report states. “As a result, the vast majority of the requests we receive from law enforcement seek information about lost or stolen devices, and are logged as device requests.”

Apple reported both the requests it has received from government entities on account holders and, in a separate table, on device owners. Apple, for instance, received 74 requests for information from law enforcement officials from Australia, 13 from Belgium, 102 from Spain. Because Apple can not disclose an exact number of requests from U.S. officials it stated that the number of requests was between 1000 and 2000. Likewise, Apple could disclose the exact percentage of requests that it complied with for every country except the U.S.

In total, 31 countries submitted requests for information on Apple account holders, over 40 on device owners – though often device information requests were simply part of an effort to find the owners of lost devices.

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