Apple releases government request report

November 5, 2013

Apple has disclosed the number of requests it receives from world governments for information about its users, reporting that the U.S. law enforcement agencies have asked for information on between 2,000 and 3,000 accounts from January to June.

The company also said that it will be filing a friend-of-the-court brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in support of cases that are advocating for the right to disclose more information about government requests.

“We feel strongly that the government should lift the gag order and permit companies to disclose complete and accurate numbers regarding FISA requests and National Security Letters,” the company said in its report.

U.S. law enforcement agencies, far and away, made the most requests for Apple users’ account information, followed by Britain, Spain and Germany.

In addition to statistics about account requests, Apple also disclosed how many requests have been made for what it calls “device information requests,” which includes inquiries for customer contact information provided to register products such as iPhones and iPads, or the date that devices were first used to access Apple services. Overall, the company said, it received requests for information on 8,605 devices from the U.S. government in the first half of 2013; the company provided “some data” in 88 percent of those requests.

“Even though device requests have not been the focus of public debate, we are disclosing them to make our report as comprehensive as possible,” the company said.

Apple also said that it has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act, but “would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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