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China and US top user data requests in Apple transparency report – Naked Security


Governments in the US and China are at the front of the line when it comes to knocking on Apple’s door to request user data relating to fraud/phishing, according to the company’s latest transparency report.

Like any tech company that handles user data, Apple gets different types of requests: those that are made when an account holder is in imminent danger, those from law enforcement agencies (LEA) trying to help people find their lost or stolen devices, those asking for Apple’s help when thieves rip off credit card data so they can buy Apple products or services on somebody else’s dime, and in situations where investigators think an account’s been used to do something illegal.

That last category has proved particularly controversial: the FBI has come knocking on Apple’s door in notable, headline-grabbing cases, including when the FBI was looking to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist and, more recently, when it was looking for help in breaking encryption on the iPhones of the killer in the recent Pensacola mass shooting.

In these instances, Apple famously said no to weakening encryption. Those requests didn’t involve subpoenas, though. The San Bernardino iPhone unlocking request involved a weird court order issued under the dusty All Writs Act of 1789, while the Pensacola unlocking request came in the form of a plain old letter sent from the FBI’s lawyer to Apple’s lawyer.

As far as worldwide government account requests go for the first half of 2019, Apple says that it got a high number from China’s mainland – a total of 15,666 requests – mostly due to financial fraud and phishing investigations. When it comes to phishing attacks, a single request can cover several devices. Apple counts and reports the number of accounts identified in each request, received from each country/region.

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