Apple has been reminding law enforcement that it can’t pull data off locked iPhones. In a subtly sassy brief filed for a federal judge, Apple has reminded everyone that it can’t (and won’t) break users’ encryption if the government asks it to.
What we’re most commonly asked for and how we respond.
The most common requests we receive for information from law enforcement are in relation to devices and/or accounts. Device Requests generally seek information in relation to Apple devices, such as an iPhone, iPad, or Mac. Account Requests generally seek information in regard to an Apple ID account and/or related Apple services or transactions. We also respond to emergency requests worldwide where Apple believes in good faith that an emergency involving imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to any person requires immediate disclosure.
All content requests require a search warrant. Only a small fraction of requests from law enforcement seek content such as email, photos, and other content stored on users’ iCloud accounts. National security-related requests are not considered Device Requests or Account Requests and are reported in a separate category.
On devices running iOS 8 and later versions, your personal data is placed under the protection of your passcode. For all devices running iOS 8 and later versions, Apple will not perform iOS data extractions in response to government search warrants because the files to be extracted are protected by an encryption key that is tied to the user’s passcode, which Apple does not possess.
Read Apple’s guidelines for law enforcement requests
The vast majority of the requests Apple receives from law enforcement come from an agency working on behalf of a customer who has requested assistance locating a stolen device. We encourage any customer who suspects their device is stolen to contact their respective law enforcement agency.
Responding to an Account Request most often involves providing information about a customer’s iCloud account. If we are legally compelled to divulge any information for an Account Request, we provide notice to the customer when allowed and deliver the narrowest set of information possible in response. Not only are a minuscule number of accounts actually affected by information requests, but our stringent review meant Apple only disclosed content in response to 27% of the total U.S. account requests we received during the period from July 1st, 2014 to June 30th, 2015.
National Security Orders from the U.S. government.
A tiny percentage of our millions of accounts is affected by national security–related requests. In the first six months of 2015, we received between 750 and 999 of these requests. Though we would like to be more specific, by law this is the most precise information we are currently allowed to disclose.
from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
In its latest “Who Has Your Back?” report, once again the EFF awarded Apple 5 out of 5 stars “commend[ing] Apple for its strong stance regarding user rights, transparency, and privacy.”
We’re always working for greater transparency and protections on behalf of our customers.
We believe transparency and dialogue are the best ways for finding solutions to the overarching impact from surveillance laws and practices. We are continuing to engage with the White House, government regulators, legislators, and courts around the world regarding the importance of protecting customer data and security.