Apple releases surveillance information

News Article - Monday, 17 June 2013 11:24

By: Kerry Butters Category: Security

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 before.

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 matters."

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.

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