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Apple Denies PRISM Charges, Discloses Information Requests

by Jacob Kleinman | June 17, 2013June 17, 2013 8:00 am PDT

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Apple recently publicly denied any knowledge of the government’s controversial digital surveillance program, PRISM. A letter published Monday says that the U.S. government does not have direct access to Apple’s servers and explained that the company’s legal team evaluates every request from the state before taking action.

“We first heard of the government’s ‘Prism’ program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6,” Apple said. “We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order. Like several other companies, we have asked the U.S. government for permission to report how many requests we receive related to national security and how we handle them. We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it here in the interest of transparency.”

Apple said it received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests for customer data from law enforcement officials, related to over 9,000 accounts or devices, between December 1, 2012 and May 31, 2013. The company claims the majority of these requests are related to robberies, missing persons and suicide prevention. Apple also notes that all conversations through iMessage and FaceTime are encrypted so even the company can’t access that data.

The news follows similar reports from Microsoft and Facebook, which disclosed data requests from the government last week. On Friday, Microsoft said it received 6,000 to 7,000 requests in the past six months, targeting 31,000 to 32,000 accounts. Meanwhile, Facebook said that the U.S. government has investigated as many as 19,000 of the social network’s user accounts.

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Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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