Apple: We can no longer decrypt iPhones for law enforcement, starting w/ iOS 8

Our commitment to customer privacy doesn’t stop because of a government information request.

from Apple.com

Government information requests are a consequence of doing business in the digital age. We believe in being as transparent as the law allows about what information is requested from us. In addition, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a “back door” in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.

What we’re most commonly asked for and how we respond.

The most common requests we receive for information come from law enforcement in the form of either a Device Request or an Account Request. Our legal team carefully reviews each request, ensuring it is accompanied by valid legal process. All content requests require a search warrant. If we are legally compelled to divulge any information and it is not counterproductive to the facts of the case, we provide notice to the customer when allowed and deliver the narrowest set of information possible in response. National security-related requests are not considered Device Requests or Account Requests and are reported in a separate category altogether.

On devices running iOS 8, your personal data such as photos, messages (including attachments), email, contacts, call history, iTunes content, notes, and reminders is placed under the protection of your passcode. Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data. So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.

Information Requests

Device Requests

93% law enforcement working on behalf of a customer.

Account Requests

7% law enforcement seeking customer account information.

Read Apple’s transparency reports

Read Apple’s guidelines for law enforcement requests

Device Requests

The vast majority of the requests Apple receives from law enforcement come from an agency working on behalf of a customer who has requested assistance locating a stolen device. We encourage any customer who suspects their device is stolen to contact their respective law enforcement agency.

Account Requests

Responding to an Account Request most often involves providing information about a customer’s iTunes or iCloud account. Only a small fraction of requests from law enforcement seek content such as email, photos, and other content stored on customers’ iCloud or iTunes accounts.

less than

0.00385%

of customers had data disclosed due to government information requests.

National Security Orders from the U.S. government.

A tiny percentage of our millions of accounts is affected by national security-related requests. In the first six months of 2014, we received 250 or fewer of these requests. Though we would like to be more specific, by law this is the most precise information we are currently allowed to disclose.

Six starsfrom the Electronic Frontier Foundation

In its latest “Who Has Your Back?” report, the E.F.F. awarded Apple 6 out of 6 stars for our commitment to standing with our customers when the government seeks access to their data.

We’re working for greater transparency and protections on behalf of our customers.

We publish all request data permitted by law, but we believe our customers deserve to know more about what their governments and law enforcement agencies are requesting. We are actively engaged with the White House, as well as policymakers and government regulators around the world, to allow for more accurate and complete disclosures and reforms to overreaching surveillance laws and practices.

Supporting the fight for more accurate reporting

On November 5, 2013, Apple filed an amicus curiae motion in the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. The motion requested that Apple and its competitors be allowed to publicly report more precise data on national security-related requests.
Read the full brief

Read the full letter included with the brief

Fighting against extraterritorial warrants

Apple filed an amicus curiae brief on June 13, 2014, challenging the notion that a U.S. search warrant requires a company to produce customer data stored outside the U.S. without government agencies adhering to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process.
Read the full brief

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Independent journalist and funder of We Are Change, a grassroots media outlet.

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