Compliance Management, Privacy

Government requests to Apple for customer data drop

Germany, the United States and Australia were the nations that filed the most requests for help involving an Apple device, according to the company's just released a transparency report for the second half of 2015.

Germany was far away the leader asking Apple for help 11,989 times during the six months between July and December 2015. The United States did so 4,000 times and Australia 3,004. These requests generally seek customer data related to a specific device identifiers such as serial or IMEI numbers, Apple said. For all three nations the number of requests during the second half of 2015 was down compared to the first six months of the year when Germany made 9,659 requests, the U.S. 3,824 and Australia 2,986.

The United States received the most help from Apple with the company providing the requesting agency information in 80 percent of the cases. In about 52 percent of the cases some information was provided to the German agency requesting the data; Australia received some information for 69 percent of its requests.

Some of the nations that filed a large number of requests, at least 1,000, were Singapore, China, France, Spain and the U.K.

However, the United States led the way when it came to asking Apple for data on accounts filing for help 1,105 times. The U.K., 208, and Germany, 130, were distant runner ups in this category. Requests were higher in the second half for all three countries. Law enforcement agencies filing these requests were asking for information on Apple IDs, email addresses, telephone numbers, credit card numbers, or other personal identifiers, Apple said.

The report did not discuss requests for help to break into locked devices. Apple had waged a months long battle with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over whether or not it had to help unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. This in turn spurred another knock down, drag out fight over whether or not companies should install backdoors in their devices so law enforcement can gain access when needed.

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