US tech giant Apple has revealed it received thousands data requests from US authorities, days after Facebook and Microsoft released similar information.
Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and other top internet and technology companies have come under heightened scrutiny since word leaked of a vast, covert internet surveillance program US authorities insist targets only foreign terror suspects.
According to the statement released by the company, it has received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data from From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013. Giving details about the requests, it said, “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.”
“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.” The company said. IT also added, “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.”
“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.”