Apple Received Tens of Thousands of Government Requests in H1 2019


Apple has published its latest transparency report, which provides details on the number of government requests the tech company received during the first half of 2019.

Between January 1 and June 30, 2019, Apple received from governments device-based requests (related to lost or stolen devices, or fraud investigations), financial identifier-based requests (for assistance with suspected fraudulent credit card activity), and account-based requests (seeking details of customers’ iTunes or iCloud accounts).

Governments worldwide sent Apple a total of 31,778 device requests: 19,992 came from the EMEA region, 6,207 from the APAC region, 4,819 from North America, and 760 from Latin America. A total of 195,577 devices were specified in those requests. Overall, Apple provided information for 82% of these requests, the transparency report (PDF) reveals.

During the first six months of last year, Germany sent the largest number of device-based requests to Apple, at 13,558 (21,368 devices specified), the United States sent the second largest number of such requests, at 4,796 (11,457 devices specified), while Australia rounded the top three with 1,875 requests (121,011 devices specified).

Of the 4,664 government financial identifier requests received in the first half of 2019, 74% resulted in information being provided, Apple says. The largest number of requests were received from EMEA (2,983), followed by North America (933), Asia Pacific (734), and Latin America (14). Germany was once again the leader, with 1,072 requests.

Apple also revealed that it received a total of 6,480 government account requests in the timeframe and that 37,605 accounts were specified in those requests.

The U.S. sent the majority of these requests, namely 3,619 of them. Thus, North America sent the largest number of such requests (3,643), followed by EMEA (1,459), Asia Pacific (916), and Latin America (462).

Additionally, Apple received a total of 2,616 government account preservation requests — 2,476 from the U.S. — where the company is requested to preserve a user’s data (by performing a one-time data pull at the time of the request) for 90 days, or 180 days, if a renewal request is received.

The company also received 12 requests for account restriction/deletion and 598 emergency requests. Additionally, it received 0 – 499 FISA non-content requests, 0 – 499 FISA content requests, 0 – 499 national security letters, and no national security letters where the non-disclosure order is lifted.

During the first six months of 2019, Apple received a total of 243 requests for information from private parties in the United States (non-government) and provided data for 69 of them (28%).

The company also said it received 70 requests from government authorities to remove apps from the App Store. A total of 541 applications were specified in those requests, but the company only took down 217 of them.

Related: ProtonMail Accused of Voluntarily Helping Police Spy on Users

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Related: Google Introduces Security Transparency Report for Android

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Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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