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Apple Issues Biannual Transparency Report

Every six months, Apple releases a report detailing third-party requests for personal data. The report shows that Apple cooperates with law enforcement agencies throughout the world.

By Chand Bellur

January 18, 2020 at 7:32 p.m. PDT

Apple Releases Transparency Report for January 1 – June 30, 2019

Apple’s biannual transparency report came out just in time to answer tough questions about cooperation with law enforcement. As it stands, Attorney General William Barr has accused the Cupertino company of noncooperation with law enforcement. The report details Apple’s cooperation with myriad law enforcement agencies around the globe.

The twenty-one page report is available on Apple’s website. It outlines the types of information requests Apple receives, in addition to charts showing the international distribution of data demands.

Different Types of User Data Requests

Types of requests vary from warrants to fiduciary inquiries. Some customers also request Apple to close user accounts of family members or locate stolen or lost devices.

Top law enforcement requests involve locating stolen devices. Credit card fraud investigations are another common need for user data requests.

U.S. law enforcement agencies must have a search warrant with probable cause to gain access to customer data. Apple also holds international law enforcement accountable to some U.S. regulations:

“Any U.S. government agency seeking customer content data from Apple must obtain a search warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause. International requests for content must comply with applicable laws, including the U.S. Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). A request under a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or Agreement with the U.S. is in compliance with ECPA.”

Law Enforcement Can Access Your Apple Account

Apple’s transparency report reminds users that their data is not completely protected. Law enforcement agencies throughout the world can access your data, however, it requires a search warrant or other proof of probable cause. Other than such urgent requests, your privacy is protected in the Apple ecosystem.

Apple’s mechanism for user data requests is necessary to keep the world safe. It may also help you find a lost iPhone some day.


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