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Apple Details US Requests For Customer Data 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the give-me-a-number dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Not to be left out Apple has released details about government requests for customer data. The company said it received between 4,000-5,000 government requests, affecting as many as 10,000 accounts or devices. From the article: 'The iPad maker said that it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement agencies for customer data from December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, and that 9,000 to 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in the requests. Apple did not state how many of the requests were from the National Security Agency or how many affected accounts or devices may have been tied to any NSA requests.' Facebook and Microsoft released their numbers this weekend."
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Apple Details US Requests For Customer Data

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  • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:15AM (#44029619)
    Just keep shopping America, pay no attention to the camera over your shoulder. I mean if you don't have anything to hide, you have nothing to fear.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:25AM (#44029731)

      It's easy to criticize the status quo. It's harder to work on a long-term solution [metagovernment.org]. But the fact is, we won't be able to control the rise in totalitarianism in government if we continue to cede our control of the government itself.

      • Theres not much help when even anti-authoritarian communities like slashdot are willing to submit to "think of the children arguments" when it comes to the 2nd amendment and 5th amendment [slashdot.org].

        Or are the folks advocating their abolition truly the minority on here? I certainly hope so.

        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by clarkkent09 (1104833)

          Slashdot is not anti-authoritarian. Majority of slashdot posters, and certainly modders are liberal, which is as authoritarian as it gets.

          • by spazdor (902907)

            You must not have been around for very long. It gets much more authoritarian than that.

        • by aralin (107264)

          I'm much more worried about the 3rd amendment. If the military controls the computers in our homes, shouldn't we call them soldiers and demand a just compensation for quartering them in our homes?

          • They dont control the computers in our homes. PRISM means a lot of things, but thats not one of them.

            Take a deep breath, and lower the hysteria about 2 notches.

    • by number17 (952777)
      And yet walking around naked will get you thrown in jail.
    • All your records are belong to us
  • Shocked I am not. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:30AM (#44029811)
    The Government is doing what we said they could (and in some cases insisted) do. Not sure why everyone is acting so shocked.
    • The Government is doing what we said they could (and in some cases insisted) do. Not sure why everyone is acting so shocked.

      look, these are just the normal warrants. like for robberies, drug dealings and such.

      these are not the nsa secret mass warrants, since they're not at liberty to tell about those. but they can try to move the focus to the warrants we already knew all the fucking time about, since they're used in court regularly as evidence.

      apple just jumped on this semi-revelations train since others did it too.

      • look, these are just the normal warrants. like for robberies, drug dealings and such.

        these are not the nsa secret mass warrants, since they're not at liberty to tell about those.

        My interpretation is this: Apple (and probably Microsoft, Google, etc. ) have got permission not to tell us how many "secret" warrants they received, but how many warrants in total - secret and the "normal" ones. I suppose they won't be allowed to give the number of "normal" warrants anymore. So if they say "about 5,000" that could be 10 normal and 4,990 super secret, or 4,999 normal and 1 super secret warrant, we don't know. If you define "mass warrants" as "more than 10,000" then there were no "secret nsa

    • If you demand security by all means, means will be tried that take away other things. So demand rights AND security. It's incorrect that we can't have both (as Bruce Schneier has iterated for the last 15 years).

    • by greenbird (859670)

      The Government is doing what we said they could (and in some cases insisted) do.

      Yeah. I certainly voted for the allow the government violate the constitution and secretly interpret the law however they want and lie to congress about it provision. And of course the rest of my patriotic American comrades voted for too. It had that rider on it that allowed the executive branch to detain US citizens indefinitely without due process and even murder them if the president thought it was important. I check that part twice.

      How do you vote against it?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The problem is not technical at all, we have secret courts that account to no one, and have no public records - these are referred to as FISA courts but they could also be called Kangaroo Courts.

    The second issue is the national security letters that companies like Apple, MS, Google and Yahoo receive - they cant even acknowledge that they got the damn letter! how re they then supposed to be upfront with their customers about what they hand over?

    The problem is really that the judicial and legislative branches

    • The big problem here is that the watchers entrusted with enforcing the laws have set themselves above the laws. Not exactly news but with more confirmation coming out every day more and more people are becoming aware.

      But there are technical problems. Our technical systems (computers and the internet) are very poorly designed. I have been saying this since the 80s but everyone was focused on making something happen now, instead of designing it right so it would continue to work in the future. So we have comp

  • just FYI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:39AM (#44029921)
    11 people were killed by toddlers accidentally firing guns in 2013 and 4 by terrorists on US soil.
    Another fun fact, terrorists don't tend to post giant posts on public areas like Facebook, Twitter, or Verizon text message with giant keywords like "nuclear bomb" and "terrorist attack" nor do they do it on the internet or a blog.
    • Re:just FYI (Score:5, Funny)

      by MightyYar (622222) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:43AM (#44029981)

      4 by terrorists on US soil.

      The programs are working!

      • Actually, my magic rock is what's helped to reduce the amount of terrorism in the U.S.. But, I'm afraid its magic is running out due to lack of finding. Perhaps you'd like to help fund my magic rock that keeps terrorists away? The government uses magic rocks too, but they toss in governmental jargon and slap acronyms on them to make it less obvious.

        • by MightyYar (622222)

          You should start a White House Petition to fund your magic rock. Mine has permanent magic that keeps the Earth from flying off into space.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The programs are working!

        No, they're not. There are toddlers out there who are killing Americans at a rate even greater than the terrorist themselves!

        It's long past time we declared a war on toddlers and do something save American lives. Think of the children damn it!

    • Another fun fact, terrorists don't tend to post giant posts on public areas like Facebook, Twitter, or Verizon text message with giant keywords like "nuclear bomb" and "terrorist attack" nor do they do it on the internet or a blog.

      So by saying "nuclear bomb" and "terrorist attack" on a forum like Slashdot, by your logic, I've just been flagged as a non-terrorist?

      For your information, I use nuclear bombs all the time in Starcraft II. Godamn zergs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/ss-130415-boston-bombing-tease.photoblog600.jpg [msn.com]

      Yeah, that guy didn't die, because people saved his life (and many others) it wasn't because of lack of trying by the terrorists.

      http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/specials/boston_marathon_bombing_victim_list/ [boston.com]

      There is nothing like trying to minimalize tragedy to make a political point. You make me sick.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The point (and it's a good one), is that we freak out disproportionately over things that scare us, like terrorism, and yawn at the things that kill many more people and are much more preventable (like children with guns).

        We do more damage to our society with overreaction than the actual deaths and woundings by the attacks.

        But all this is too complicated for your widdle bwain, so just repeat after me;
        Baaa! Baaa! Baaa!

        You scare the shit out of me.

        • I get the point. I agree that we tend to freak out about loud noises (guns) and horrific acts (9/11, Boston) and over state their over all significance. More people are killed by clubs and bats than rifles, yet we are more scared of rifles, because they are "scary, loud", and not because people die. If people were concerned with people dying, we'd ban "assault bats".

          But saying "only 4 people died" minimizes the tragedy. It flat out ignores the impact on other people, as if they don't matter at all. And equa

          • More people are killed by clubs and bats than rifles, yet we are more scared of rifles

            [citation needed] [snopes.com]

            • citation given

              original citation [fbi.gov]

              Snopes says "Firearms", I said "Rifles". This is an example of not paying attention to the actual claim.

              From the FBI's own statistics ... 323 (Rifles) vs 496 (Blunt Objects) (clubs / hammers).

              You do know that SNOPES is not quoting the actual argument correctly now. Perhaps in the future you'll actually refer to what is claimed (rifles) and what SNOPES claims is claimed (all guns).

              • citation given

                original citation [fbi.gov]

                Snopes says "Firearms", I said "Rifles". This is an example of not paying attention to the actual claim.

                From the FBI's own statistics ... 323 (Rifles) vs 496 (Blunt Objects) (clubs / hammers).

                Hammers are neither clubs nor bats, so even if we ignore the obvious fact that you left out all "accidental" deaths by focusing on murder, "no citation given".

                "More people are killed by clubs and bats than rifles" [citation still needed]

                • Now you're being a dickhead. Do you do that with every "statistic" or just ones you don't agree with. I gave the CLEAR example of the source, and my "quote" was meant to be illustrative of the point than actual "citation". But since you can't figure out obviousness of what I meant from the context of the actual citation, it is clear you lack higher level thought and understanding.

                  Here's one, WHY do liberals support banning "assault rifles*", when they account for so few homicides (subset of 323) ? Same reas

                  • Now you're being a dickhead.

                    Because I point out that you keep moving goalposts? Boo-hoo-hoo.

                    • Blunt Instruments as represented by "clubs and bats". Clear enough you moron?

                    • And as usual, you miss the point being a dickhead moron.

                    • And as usual, you miss the point being a dickhead moron.

                      Projecting, eh?

                    • Blunt Instruments as represented by "clubs and bats". Clear enough you moron?

                      Or like your intellect. Sure.

                      They don't call you guys "gun nuts" because you like guns - but because you are nuts.

                    • Talk about moving goal posts. I'm nuts because I point out facts that you can't seem to grasp because you're hung up on the nuances of written communication styles and equating them to being legalese. You're the kind of guy who says Clinton was correct when he said "I did not have sexual relations with that woman", because he didn't put his dick in her pussy, but rather put his dick in her mouth, when everyone else knows he was lying his ass off. He and Monica had sex, oral sex, and if that isn't "sexual re

    • Re:just FYI (Score:5, Funny)

      by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:59AM (#44030203)

      11 people were killed by toddlers accidentally firing guns in 2013

      Guns are safe! Ban toddlers!

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Guns are safe! Ban toddlers!

        I would be okay with this.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        11 people were killed by toddlers accidentally firing guns in 2013

        Guns are safe! Ban toddlers!

        You'll have to pry this toddler from my cold dead hands

    • by beelsebob (529313)

      11 people were killed by toddlers accidentally firing guns in 2013 and 4 by terrorists on US soil.

      To be fair –most europeans would argue that this is pretty retarded ;)

  • by joeflies (529536) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:43AM (#44029973)

    "The most common requests came from police investigating crimes or searching for people". Searching for people would mean that each request would affect one account. 4,000-5,000 requests affecting 10,000 accounts implies that each request touched on average two accounts (a caller and a recipient?). In addition, it doesn't say how much data was slurped out of each request either - is it a particular imessage or a whole dump of all imessage records, or is it tapping all imessages to come?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      TFA also includes Apple's statements about what they don't/can't hand over. Which includes iMessage and FaceTime calls which are encrypted with a key they don't have. And some other data which they don't record in a way that can be split out on a per-user basis to respond to requests like these.

      Unless you believe that is a lie of course.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      "The most common requests came from police investigating crimes or searching for people". Searching for people would mean that each request would affect one account. 4,000-5,000 requests affecting 10,000 accounts implies that each request touched on average two accounts (a caller and a recipient?). In addition, it doesn't say how much data was slurped out of each request either - is it a particular imessage or a whole dump of all imessage records, or is it tapping all imessages to come?

      I would expect for se

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:43AM (#44029977)

    That can't be right. The NSA said there were fewer than 300 requests total, and they would never lie to us.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well um, it's pretty clear that the total here is for all US law enforcement agencies, so it doesn't contradict the NSA number, really.

    • Right, because there are no government agencies other than the NSA who might have made those requests. Most of those requests were made by local police departments and are related to ordinary crimes, missing persons etc and nothing to do with national security.

    • From the Guardian's Edward Snowden Q&A [guardian.co.uk] (definitely worth a read):

      Q. What are your thoughts on Google's and Facebook's denials? Do you think that they're honestly in the dark about PRISM, or do you think they're compelled to lie?
      Perhaps this is a better question to a lawyer like Greenwald, but: If you're presented with a secret order that you're forbidding to reveal the existence of, what will they actually do if you simply refuse to comply (without revealing the order)?

      A: Their denials went through s

      • They are legally compelled to comply and maintain their silence in regard to specifics of the program, but that does not comply them from ethical obligation. If for example Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple refused to provide this cooperation with the Intelligence Community, what do you think the government would do? Shut them down?

        Put their CEO into jail?

        Next we can discuss what their ethical obligation actually is. Which probably depends on the numbers involved. If there were a million requests per year, then I would assume that there are an awful number of completely innocent people hit by this, and the companies would have an ethical obligation to do what they can to stop it (and it would be close to a situation where citizens should overthrow their government). If say Apple received 100 such requests, then it is much more like

  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday June 17, 2013 @11:49AM (#44030063)

    Microsoft gave a bit of detail about how this is done:

    "We are permitted to publish data on national security orders received (including, if any, FISA Orders and FISA Directives), but only if aggregated with law enforcement requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies; only for the six-month period of July 1, 2012 thru December 31, 2012; only if the totals are presented in bands of 1,000; and all Microsoft consumer services had to be reported together."

    That way nobody can really tell what these numbers mean...

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      Now they should release detailed data on requests from all other U.S. local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, excluding the FISA/NSA requests.

      This wouldn't give any precise numbers, but it would give a better estimate- and no super duper secret information would have been released.

  • To unsuspecting people? The kind of updates that change your device into a traitor.

  • What I find most interesting here is that this is the first time I've seen a claim that iMessage supports end to end encryption. It seems to me that the online consensus was that it probably didn't. Probably time for Apple to provide us a little more detail about how this works, especially if they want us to trust them with password synchronization through the new keychain.
  • Why is Apple referred to as 'the iPad Maker'? That's the best description they could come up with?
  • As if we don't know what Apple is, they have to explain that it's "the iPad maker." You'd think that for this particular type of news, "the iPhone maker" would be more appropriate, albeit still unnecessary. Why would they do that? Oh wait, "iPad" is a link to their own iPad reviews. Fuck you, cnet!
  • So, if the NSA is working so hard to fight terrorism by violating our rights, why couldn't the government work just as hard on something that saves more lives in the long run? Vehicles kill tens of thousands of people per year. If the government is going to trash my civil liberties, at least save more lives in the process.
  • by Ron Bennett (14590) on Monday June 17, 2013 @12:37PM (#44030719) Homepage

    At first glance, 5,000 or whatever "government requests" doesn't seem that bad out of millions of accounts. But that number doesn't account for data that the NSA has access to from eavesdropping / backdoors, bulk data dumps, and data acquired via 3rd parties.

  • Truthiness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Meneth (872868)
    What, if anything, compels Apple and the others to be truthful about these numbers?
    • by dacullen (1666965)
      Actually it seems that they are being compelled to be a bit less than truthful e.g. must be aggregated with all LE requests, only for a specific 6 month period, only reported in bands of 1000's.
      • Actually it seems that they are being compelled to be a bit less than truthful e.g. must be aggregated with all LE requests, only for a specific 6 month period, only reported in bands of 1000's.

        How does that make it not truthful? "We received between 5,000 and 5,999 requests" if the numbers were indeed in that range would be absolutely truthful.

    • What, if anything, compels Apple and the others to be truthful about these numbers?

      The fact that the truth tends to come out eventually. A few employees at Apple _know_ the correct numbers. In a few years time, a few ex-employees at Apple will know the correct numbers. And eventually, some ex-Apple employee who is really unhappy with the company will know the correct numbers and tell them.

  • All these disclosures really do not mean anything. Here is a quote from ars-technica: "NSA is tapping directly into international fiber optic cables and collecting all that information. PRISM, on the other hand, is used to "narrow and focus" that massive stream of information. Once the NSA decides on a target, it will contact Internet companies like Facebook and Google to pinpoint the suspect." So really.. these companies are not lying when they say that NSA does not have backdoors or direct access to thei
  • Apple, Facebook etc. are already playing ball with the government, so you can safely bet they wouldn't release this info if the US government hadn't OK'd it first. That alone means the numbers are probably suspect and that the gov. actually wants Apple and everybody else to release this kind of info. The reason? They think the 10,000 number will actually encourage most people as 10k is a drop in the ocean as a precentage of people that live in the US.

    The fact that the US gov feel the need to respond (via Ap

  • http://www.apple.com/apples-commitment-to-customer-privacy/ [apple.com]

    Two weeks ago, when technology companies were accused of indiscriminately sharing customer data with government agencies, Apple issued a clear response: We first heard of the government’s “Prism” program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.

    Like several other companies, we have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them. We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it here in the interest of transparency.

    From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. 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. The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.

    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. In fact, from time to time when we see inconsistencies or inaccuracies in a request, we will refuse to fulfill it.

    Apple has always placed a priority on protecting our customers’ personal data, and we don’t collect or maintain a mountain of personal details about our customers in the first place. There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it.


    For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.

    We will continue to work hard to strike the right balance between fulfilling our legal responsibilities and protecting our customers’ privacy as they expect and deserve.

  • That people think is run by a bunch of sweet nerds.

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