Tech

WikiLeaks Reveals Apple Sends Customer Data To Government ´Thousands Of Times Every Month´

By Luis Fran , Oct 26, 2016 06:10 PM EDT
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The radical transparency organization WikiLeaks, revealed through an email of Hillary Clinton´s campaign chairman John Podesta, that hi-tech company Apple gives their customer´s data information to the U.S. government "thousands of times every month." The message was sent by Apple´s vice-president of environment, policy and social initiatives, Lisa Jackson.

Apple´s Message To Podesta

Although this could be seen as something that could hurt its image, the details showed in Jackson´s email are in concordance with Apple´s transparency report in the second half of 2015, in which it was explained how the company received 4009 law enforcement requests linked to its devices, and it provided information in 80 percent of those cases.

"Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process. We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day. Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple's ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data," Jackson told in the email.

The message was sent as the company was preparing to speak out against the U.K. Investigatory Powers Bill that would require Apple to hold a key to encrypted smartphones and services such as iMessage and FaceTime, as reported by the International Business Times. Although it may seems as an incredible surprise, considering Apple´s stance on encryption and privacy, the email only shows Jackson reaching out Podesta to thanks Clinton for her position on the matter.

What remains a mystery in the letter is what type of data Apple can provide to the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any spy agency, giving the fat that the definition of "meta-data" varies. For instance, a subject field or even an email address could be easily described as "meta-data", so it is unknown which exact information is given.

The Entire Email

Hi John, I wanted to reach out to say thanks for the principled and nuanced stance the Secretary took last night on encryption and the tech sector. Leadership at Apple certainly noticed and I am sure that is true though out the Valley.

Please know that Apple will continue its work with law enforcement. We share law enforcement's concerns about the threat to citizens and we work closely with authorities to comply with legal requests for data that have helped solve complex crimes. Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process. We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day. Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple's ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data.

Tonight, Tim and Apple will be featured on "60 Minutes." We expect encryption and taxes to be covered. In previews, Tim reacts strongly to the EU tax investigation of Apple and other American companies. We will amplify encryption messaging tomorrow when we publicly release our comments on the draft UK Investigatory Powers bill.

Best wishes to you and your family and the HRC family for a peaceful and joyous holiday season and a prosperous and bright 2016.

Lisa

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