In serious news this week, Apple has announced that it’s going to launch a dedicated web portal for authenticated law enforcement officers to submit their lawful requests for data, track requests and to obtain responsive data from the company.
Apple is also going to build a team that will train law enforcement officers including developing an online training module for officers to improve Apple’s reach and working with small police forces and law enforcement agencies around the world.
The new web portal is part of Apple’s new Law Enforcement Support Program and will be available globally when launched at the end of the year.
Apple says that the program will allow it to uphold its fundamental commitment to protect the security and privacy of its users. “We believe that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in keeping our society safe and we’ve always maintained that if we have information we will make it available when presented with valid legal process. In recognising the ongoing digital evidence needs of law enforcement agencies, we have a team of dedicated professionals within our legal department who manage and respond to all legal requests received from law enforcement agencies globally. Our team also responds to emergency requests globally on a 24/7 basis.
We publish legal process guidelines for government and law enforcement agencies globally and we publish transparency reports twice a year detailing the types of requests we receive and how we respond. In addition, we regularly provide training to law enforcement officers on the types of data available from Apple and how to obtain it consistent with our legal process guidelines.
By the end of 2018 we will begin the launch of an online portal for authenticated law enforcement officers globally to submit lawful requests for data, track requests, and obtain responsive data from Apple.
We are building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers globally, which will significantly increase our ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies. This will include the development of an online training module for officers. This will assist Apple in training a larger number of law enforcement agencies and officers globally, and ensure that our company’s information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape.
Apple is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users. The above developments and the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment.”
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When requesting customer information and data, Apple require law enforcement and government officials to follow all applicable laws. If they do then Apple will comply with the narrowest possible set of data relevant to the request.
The information can include device identifiers, customer service records and iCloud content including emails, photos, documents, contacts, bookmarks, calendars, Safari browsing history, Apple Maps search history, iMessages backups and iOS device backups. If legally required, Apple may also provide basic customer information such as name, physical and email addresses, phone numbers and IP address along with customer service records and Find My iPhone logs.
Apple has publicly stated that it has not and never will create a security master key or backdoor to any of its products and services and never will. Twice a year Apple publishes a transparency report that outlines how many data-related requests it has received from law enforcement, government and party officials in the US and abroad. In the second half of 2017 in the US alone, Apple received 4450 requests for 15,168 devices. Apple provided data in 3548 cases, approx. 80% of the time. Worldwide Apple received 29,718 requests covering 309,362 devices providing data approx. 79% of the time.
A recent report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies outlined the cybersecurity challenges and digital evidence needs of US law enforcement agencies and made a series of recommendations. Apple adopted all of these and this launch should be seen as a response to them to help law enforcement agencies.