Govt. Requests for Apple’s User Data Doubled in Just Six Months

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Apple revealed on Monday that government requests for user data had spiked in the latter half of 2016, nearly doubling in comparison to the first six months of the year and reaching a record high.

From July to December of last year, Apple received close to 6,000 national security orders requesting the release of user data, the company revealed in its transparency report for the second half of 2016. Between January and June of the same year, the company received about 3,000 user data requests. Beyond just doubling, the latest transparency report also reveals that government requests for data had reached an all-time high since Apple began releasing such documents in 2013, Forbes reported.

In addition to publishing those statistics, the company also revealed that it had received at least one secret FBI order for data — a National Security Letter which has since been declassified. Despite the fact that that letter is no longer classified, Apple has not released its contents or any details surrounding it thus far. When presented with a request from a legally authorized source, Apple usually complies. The company provided data about 78 percent of the time when asked by U.S. authorities about which Apple account is associated with an iPhone, for example.

But while requests for data are on the rise, the company did note that 80 percent of law enforcement requests are made by authorities working with users to locate lost or stolen devices. Apple does reject requests that it sees as overreaching, and all data stored on devices are encrypted. The company can, however, turn over information stored in iCloud, Gizmodo reported.

Apple has famously grappled with government entities over user data and privacy matters. In the wake of the San Bernardino shooting, the Cupertino-based tech giant refused to create a backdoor for the FBI that would allow the agency to unlock one of the shooter’s iPhones. Such a backdoor, Apple contended, would compromise the security of all of its iOS devices if it fell into the wrong hands. But despite that famous tango with the feds, Apple’s transparency reports reveal that, in most cases, Cupertino does comply with authorities to provide pertinent user data.

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