Apple received a total 27 law enforcement device requests for a total 65 devices from the Indian government in the first six months of 2013 (January 1, 2013- June 30, 2013), the company has revealed in its first transparency report (pdf).
Apple noted that these requests may include requests for the customer contact information provided while registering a device with them or the date when the device first used Apple services. The company counts devices based on individual serial numbers related to an investigation.
Apple complied with 41% of the total requests, providing “some” data on 11 such requests. This information may be purchase information or relevant device information such as device registration, subscriber, service, and repair in response to a valid legal process.
Expectedly, Apple received the maximum number of law enforcement device requests from the United States, where it received 3,542 requests for a total 8,605 devices and the company complied with as many as 88% of total requests.
No Data on Account Info requests: What Apple has not shared though is the number of account information requests received from the Indian government and the requests for which account information was shared and rejected and the total compliance rate.
The information on requests from the US government is also quite ambiguous: It received 1000-2000 user accounts requests for 2000-3000 accounts from the US Government, of which it shared information on 0-1000 accounts and rejected requests on 0-1000 accounts. Although, Apple notes the US government doesn’t allow them to disclose the number of national security orders and the number of accounts affected by this order, except in broad ranges.
That being said, Apple says a vast majority of the requests received from law enforcement agencies seek information about lost or stolen devices and are logged as device requests and only a small fraction of them are related to iTunes, iCloud, or Game Center accounts. Device requests never include national security-related requests and a majority of them are initiated by its own customers working with law enforcement agencies.
It also notes its main business does not depend on collecting personal data, unlike other companies dealing with similar requests (read: Google, Yahoo, Facebook and others) and it has no interest in collecting personal information about its customers. The company doesn’t store location data, Maps searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form and provides end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime.
Considering this is Apple’s first transparency report, the company could also improve this report by adding:
– Type of government agency from which the request was received
– How many of these requests were backed by court orders
– The reason for each request: Apple could also provide more detailed reasons for data requests, similar to how Google does. In its previous transparency report (which needs to be updated soon), Google had classified the data requests through several reasons – Defamation Privacy and Security, Electoral Law, Government Criticism, Adult Content, Impersonation, Hate Speech, Copyright, Religious Offense, Violence, National Security, Trademark, Reason Unspecified, Suicide Promotion, Drug Abuse, Bullying/Harassment, Geographical Dispute.
The transparency report list:
Update: Error in headline corrected