In the wake of the NSA leak, Apple has joined fellow
technology giants in disclosing how many surveillance requests it received from
the US government. On Friday, Microsoft and Facebook made similar disclosures.
Apple says it has received 4000-5000 requests about its
customers since December 2012, whilst Microsoft claim to have received
6000-7000 requests, affecting around 31,000 to 32,000 customer accounts.
The disclosures have been made following a Guardian
report which said that a US NSA programme called Prism had the power to
collect data from large technology firms.
Apple denied having any knowledge of the programme when the
news broke a few weeks ago.
Facebook say that they have had 9000-10,000 requests, which
affected around 18,000-19,000 customer accounts.
The Guardian verified a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation,
giving details of the project, as genuine. The presentation was marked "top
secret with no distribution to foreign allies” and was allegedly used to train
agents. The document states that information can be collected directly from US
service providers and whilst the presentation claims that this is done in
collaboration with tech firms, all those asked claimed not to have heard of it
Apple released a
statement on its website on Monday, which began "from December 1, 2012 to
May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from US law
enforcement for customer data.
"Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were
specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local
authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security
According to Apple, most requests for information come from
police investigating crimes such as missing children and suicides.
"Regardless of the circumstances, our legal team
conducts an evaluation of each request and, only if appropriate, we retrieve
and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities,"
the statement said.
"In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies
or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfil (sic) it."
Additionally, Apple said that only certain types of data
were handed over as the company chooses not to store data relating to iMessage
and FaceTime as this is encrypted at each end.