Apple reveals US spying requests- Google and Twitter keep quiet

Jun 18, 2013 | Regulation

Apple has followed Facebook and Microsoft in revealing details of data requests from the US authorities, following revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had “direct access” to their servers under a data collection programme called Prism. The firm said it received requests for information linked to between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices between […]

Apple has followed Facebook and Microsoft in revealing details of data requests from the US authorities, following revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had “direct access” to their servers under a data collection programme called Prism.


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The firm said it received requests for information linked to between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices between December and the end of May.
It said the demands included “national security matters” among other information. Microsoft and Facebook published similar numbers last week.
However, rival firms Google and Twitter have said that such disclosures are not helpful.
“We have always believed that it’s important to differentiate between different types of government requests,” said a statement by Google published on Saturday. “Lumping the two categories together would be a step back for users.”
A tweet from Twitter’s legal director, Benjamin Lee, added: “We agree… it’s important to be able to publish numbers of national security requests – including Fisa [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] disclosures – separately.”
Last week, Facebook said it received 9,000-10,000 requests for user data from US government entities in the second half of 2012.
The social-networking site said the requests, relating to between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts, covered issues from local crime to national security.
Microsoft meanwhile said it received 6,000 and 7,000 requests for data from between 31,000 and 32,000 accounts.
Secret documents obtained last week by The Guardian and Washington Post indicate that the highly classified operation, known as PRISM, granted the NSA free rein to access technology firms networks at any time, giving the agency access to the time, location and content of messages.
PRISM is primarily geared toward foreign and terror intelligence gathering but also catches home grown users.
In the initial report, nine firms were alleged to be willing accomplices in the scheme; including Yahoo! PalTalk, YouTube, Skype, AOL and Apple (see slide leaked to the Guardian below).
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The news has sparked widespread concern in the US. Over 20,000 people have signed a petition at Progressive Change Campaign Committee calling on Congress to hold investigations.
Earlier this month, Edward Snowden, a former employee of defence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton and former CIA technical assistant, leaked details of the Prism programme.
The 29-year-old fled the US to Hong Kong shortly before the Guardian and Washington Post newspapers published his revelations.
His whereabouts are unknown, and he has vowed to fight extradition to the US should the authorities attempt to prosecute him.
Watch the video from 29-year-old government contractor Ed Snowden (the source of the leak) below:

Read the Apple blog here

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