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Apple Releases New Transparency Report

In the middle of its battle with the FBI, Apple released its new semi-annual transparency report. This report reveals how many requests have been made by governments around the world for user data and how many have been met by Apple.

Apple transparency

These data cover the period from January 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019. TechCrunch's Zack Whittaker points out that the rules imposed by the Minister of Justice force Apple to delay the publication of these figures by six months.

Meanwhile, Apple says governments made 31,778 requests, about 500 more than in the first half of 2018. These requests covered a total of more than 195,000 devices. Apple says it was able to provide 82% of the data for these cases. Among the various countries, Germany made the majority of requests, just over 13,500. However, the United States made 4,796 requests.

But what type of data is concerned? Apple says law enforcement agencies are looking for certain device-related customer data, often linked to investigations of lost or stolen devices, as well as fraud investigations.

Device-centric requests typically require details about customers associated with devices or device connections to Apple services.

But that doesn't stop there, as governments also need data on iCloud and iTunes accounts. During this six-month period, Apple claims to have received 6,480 requests for this type of information, but only 85% of those requests were met. The United States leads this special ranking with 3,619 requests.

Apple also provides data on US national security allegations under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For security reasons, however, Apple only reports a range for this type of data, which ranges from 0 to 499 requests during this period, for data unrelated to transactional and subscriber information.

Apple also claims to have received between 0 and 499 requests for data such as photos, emails, backups of iOS devices, contacts, or calendars.

Finally, as Whittaker notes, a record number of users and accounts have been affected by FISA requests. Meanwhile, the FBI has also posted a record number of national security letters. These letters are placed without judicial control.

As for the App Store, Apple says it received a total of 70 requests to remove apps from the App Store during this period for "legal violations". Most of these requests came from China, where the government made 56 requests. There were also 25 requests to remove apps from the App Store for "platform policy violations", of which 22 were from China.

The full Apple transparency report is available at this address.