Government inquiry reports are nothing new, after all Google, Verizon, AT&T and others have published 'transparency reports' for awhile now. Today however, marks one of the few times ever that we have seen Apple disclose their NSA and law enforcement data numbers.
The report, which can be viewed here as a PDF file, comes on the heels of several tech companies reaching a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice over disclosing national security information requests. A deal which will enable more tech firms to report more detail about security requests.
According to the report Apple responded to fewer than 250 national security requests and roughly 927 law enforcement request nationally from the period between January 1, 2013 to June 30, 2013 disclosing data for 747 accounts, Apple objected to 102 requests and
disclosed no data in 254 requests, for a total disclosure rate of 81
Apple said the numbers reported are "the actual number of requests for information related to law enforcement investigations and all of the national security orders received under FISA and NSLs guidelines."
This data represents every U.S. national security order for data about Apple's customers regardless of geography. The report also reiterates previous statements the company has made that unlike some other tech companies during the time from they did not receive any orders for bulk data.
Apple believes the number of accounts affected in comparison to the sheer volume of accounts the registered with the company is "infinitesimal". Yes I'd say so! So much so that I'd be skeptical of how accurate these numbers are and call into question the results. In comparison to the numbers we generally see these seem minute.
One reason may be is that perhaps the government agencies are circumventing the need for a direct order and obtaining the data needed in other ways. According to a new report from The New York Times
and corroborated by other news agencies, the NSA can obtain data from
iOS and Android apps as it travels over the Internet, in real time.