Apple reveals latest government data demand figures

The company said it will soon start reporting app takedowns from its app stores.
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

(Image: file photo)

Apple's latest transparency report is out.

New figures in the company's second biannual transparency report for 2017 show that Apple received 29,718 demands to access 309,362 devices in the second-half of the year.

Data was turned over in 79 percent of cases.

The number of demands are down slightly on the first half of the year, but the number devices that the government wanted access to rocketed.

Read also: I asked Apple for all my data. Here's what was sent back

In the US, the company said 90 percent of those device requests were subpoenas -- which don't require a court's approval, and only 6 percent were search warrants, which require a judge to sign off.

The company said the high number of devices specified in US requests was largely due to device repair fraud investigations and investigations into stolen devices and fraudulent purchases.

Apple also received 3,358 requests for data on 10,786 accounts, such as iCloud content, stored photos, email, contacts, and device backups. Although the number of requests are up, the number of accounts affected dropped compared to the first half of the year.

Data was provided in 82 percent of cases.

The company was also requested to preserve account data for up to three months in 1,214 cases, affecting 2,547 accounts, while law enforcement obtained the right legal process to access the data.

Apple also said that it didn't delete any accounts when requested -- though seven accounts were restricted.

The company also said it received between 16,000 and 16,249 national security orders, including secret rulings from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

Between 8,000 and 8,249 accounts were affected.

Apple and other companies remain subject to heavy reporting restrictions on national security orders, and are only allowed to reveal figures in bands. Since the introduction of the Freedom Act in 2015, the Justice Department was forced to relax the rules on how companies report secret and classified orders, allowing tech companies to report the number of secret demands in narrower bands.

Read also: Apple knew about the iPhone 6 'Bendgate' problem

In its last report, Apple revealed it had become the latest tech giant to have a national security letter declassified. Unlike other companies, Apple did not publish the order.

As with all national security letters, the order to turn over customer data includes a gag order, preventing the company or anyone else from disclosing the contents -- even to the customer in question.

Apple did not reveal any declassified orders in this latest report.

The company said beginning in the next transparency report -- expected later this year -- Apple will disclose the number of apps removed from its app stores.

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