According to Apple’s first biannual transparency report, the Cuptertino comapny received more than 30,000 demands to access over 230,000 devices in the first-half of this year. These requests are coming in the form of National Security Letters as well as requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Apple and other big companies are only reporting ranges, since the government will not only them to reveal precise numbers. “By law, this is the most precise information we are currently allowed to disclose,” Apple said in the report.
As far as the national security-related requests are concerned, this year Apple has received four times the amount in the first half of the year that it did one year ago. In the first half of 2017, from January 1 all the way to June 30, Apple received anywhere from 13,250 to 13,499 national security requests from the U.S. government. These requests had an affect on 9,000 to 9,249 people who use Apple’s devices.
“There’s not a huge track record here, but you can start to make a simple graph. The trend does seem to be upward,” Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said. The amount of government requests made to tech companies has been steadily growing since 2014. This is when the data first started to become available.
It’s not exactly made clear why Apple has seen such an increase in national security requests from the government this year.
Companies like Facebook, Yahoo or Microsoft have yet to voluntarily report their figures for this year. Google has said that they had received anywhere from 0 to 499 National Security Letters requesting data on between 1,000 and 1,499 user accounts in the first six months of 2017, more than ever before. Google is usually the go-to company when the government wants to collect data on people.
Google is also campaigning for reform under the US Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA).
“Providing a pathway for such countries to obtain electronic evidence directly from service providers in other jurisdictions will remove incentives for the unilateral, extraterritorial assertion of a country’s laws, data localization proposals, aggressive expansion of government access authorities, and dangerous investigative techniques,” wrote Richard Salgado, Google’s director of Law Enforcement and Information Security.