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Apple Releases Some National Security Request Data

Joins Microsoft and Facebook in quantifying requests

Photo: Getty Images

Apple joined Microsoft and Facebook on Monday in releasing data about the number of national security requests it received, bundled into a total number of law enforcement requests.

Google and the other Internet companies named as part of the NSA's Prism project have asked the government to let them publish the number of requests in order to provide greater transparency to users and rebuild the public's trust that they were protecting users privacy.

Microsoft and Facebook published data Friday evening, in keeping with the government's restrictions that the national security requests be combined into an aggregate number reporting all law enforcement requests, including local and state. 

The data Apple reported was on the low end of range reported by the other Internet companies. Apple received 4,5000 to 5,000 requests impacting between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices between Dec. 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013. Apple said the most common form of requests came from "police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer's disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide," the company said in a statement on its web site

Apple had less to offer the feds.

"There are certain categories of information which we do not provide to law enforcement or any other group because we choose not to retain it," the statement said. "For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers' location, Map searches or Siri requests in an identifiable form."

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