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While Apple and the government have clashed in court over how much help law enforcement should get in accessing iDevices, the company and investigators have continued to work together in thousands of requests for information.
The company provided at least some information in response to 80 percent of the 4,000 device-related requests from U.S. law enforcement between July 1 and December 31, 2015, according to a transparency report released by Apple on Monday. Those requests covered a total of 16,112 devices, compared to 9,717 devices that investigators asked for help with in the first half of 2015.
Apple gave U.S. investigators some info in 81 percent of device requests in the first half of 2015, and in 79 percent of requests over the second half of 2014.
Most of these device requests have to do with ordinary inconveniences, like a lost phone. Typically the company can provide information like how to get in touch with the device's owner, for example, when investigators have legal authorization.
“The vast majority of the requests we receive from law enforcement relate to information about lost or stolen devices,” Apple writes in its report. “Any government agency demanding customer content from Apple must get a search warrant.”
The company received requests for information on 5,192 individual customer accounts — such as the customer name on an iCloud account — in the second half of 2015, and helped at least in part in 82 percent of those cases.
Apple began releasing transparency reports in 2013, saying “customers have a right to understand how their information is handled.” More recently, Apple has resisted attempts by government agencies to use the All Writs Act to compel the company to help investigators access and remove data from locked devices, including in the case of San Bernardino terrorist Syed Farook.
Representatives of the FBI and Apple are scheduled to appear on a pair of panels on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to answer lawmakers’ questions about encryption.