Apple is a global company, bound by global laws. That means governments and law enforcement agencies can compel it to disclose user account information in relation to investigations. In a bid to improve transparency in this area, Apple has come clean on how many cases in which it disclosed information about Aussie users compared to how many requests it got. So what did Apple disclose in Australia?
According to the new Government Information Requests report outed by Cupertino this morning, Apple complied with just over half of the requests it got from law enforcement to disclose Australian account information.
It received 74 requests from government agencies in relation to 75 accounts, and it fully disclosed data on 41 of said accounts. Apple disclosed non-content-related data on 34 occasions, objected to 22 account requests and refused to supply data for another 40.
All in all, 54 per cent of accounts requested had some form of data disclosed.
Compare that to the US and you find that Australia’s total is pretty light, with requests there spiralling up to 2000 requests encompassing 3000 accounts.
Device information requests from Australian law enforcement were much higher, with Apple receiving 1178 total requests, encompassing 1929 devices. Apple supplied some data to law enforcement agencies for 695 of those devices.
In the case of devices, US requests were much higher than Australia’s with over 3500 requests made for around 8600 devices.
All of Apple’s user data is hosted on servers inside the US, which means that technically it falls under the jurisdiction of the Patriot Act: a law which has been criticised as open to abuse for law enforcement agencies to score data on user accounts for “national security purposes”. Apple believes its users have a right to privacy, adding that it would challenge any request made to it under the guise of the Patriot Act in Federal Court. Good to see someone sticking up for user data.
Read the full report here (PDF)