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Apple publishes rules on law enforcement data requests

08 May 2014
An eye in close-up superimposted by a screen of random numbers

Apple has published a document that explains the circumstances in which it will share its customers' information with law enforcement authorities.

Apple makes it clear that it could update the guidance, but said that as of now it stands as is.

"These guidelines are provided for use by law enforcement or other government entities in the U.S. when seeking information from Apple Inc. ('Apple') about users of Apple's products and services, or from Apple devices," it says.

The document's release comes after Apple and other firms complained of being prevented from revealing as much information about data access requests as they'd like.

In an FAQ, Apple said that all subpoenas must be served on the company directly, and that all information being sought must be included in that application.

"Requests for information not included within the body of the signed subpoena, search warrant, or court order will be disregarded; all information requested must be in the actual legal process document," said Apple.

"Responsive production of records and information will be sent in an encrypted electronic container via email or, in some instances, via FedEx delivery. If no responsive information is available, a letter indicating this will be sent via email or, in some cases, via US mail."

If user information is sought as part of a criminal investigation, Apple will tell its user. It said that users would be notified "unless there is a non-disclosure order", or in other extreme situations where "we believe in our sole discretion that such notice may pose immediate risk of serious injury or death to a member of the public or the case relates to a child endangerment matter".

Apple said that it would intercept communications, when it is presented with a valid Wiretap Order, but added that iMessage and FaceTime communications have end-to-end encryption.

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Dave Neal

Dave Neal is a reporter at The INQUIRER. Previously he worked at, VNUnet, and IT Week in editor and journalist roles.

He started his career when the Y2K bug was a front page story and remains committed to covering the interesting world of technology news.

He left the world of office working four years ago and now represents The INQUIRER from home in Kent with his dog.

Dave has been quoted in papers including the London Metro.

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