Apple complies with 80 percent of U.S. data requests, but most are about lost iPhones

apple recycling gold will drop plastic bags
It’s public knowledge that companies like Apple and Google receive access requests from law enforcement on a regular basis, and Apple’s biannual transparency report once again shows the extent of those requests.

Law enforcement in the U.S. made 4,000 device requests between July 1 and December 31 last year, for 16,148 devices. Apple provided some data for 80 percent of these device requests. A vast majority of requests from local law enforcement pertain to lost or stolen devices, as law enforcement searches for contact information to return the devices to their owners. Apple even encourages people who have lost a device, or had it stolen, to contact their local law enforcement agency.

“We consider these requests very carefully and provide account content when the legal request is a search warrant.”

There are four other types of requests that Apple receives: Account requests, emergency requests, national security orders, and account deletion requests. Of course, it’s important to note that there remains information that Apple cannot legally disclose, and the Cupertino company says it will notify a customer of personal data requests, unless Apple is “explicitly prohibited from doing so.”

There were only three account deletion requests, all three of which Apple complied with. In total, Apple received 178 emergency requests, 106 of which were from the U.S. Apple can voluntary disclose data, such as “contents of communications and customer records,” to government authorities when an emergency request involves imminent danger of death or serious injury to anyone.

Account requests, on the other hand, are when Apple is asked to provide information from someone’s iTunes or iCloud account — which includes disclosing a name, address, and in “certain cases,” photos, email, iOS device backups, documents, contacts, and more. Apple faced 1,015 account requests from the U.S. government, which covered 5,192 accounts. Of those accounts, Apple disclosed data of 4,411 accounts, and Apple objected 116 account requests.

China made 32 requests for 6,724 accounts, and Apple disclosed data for 5,082 of them. Seventeen of those requests had non-content data revealed. However, the only countries where some content was disclosed in account requests were Brazil and the U.S.

“We consider these requests very carefully and provide account content when the legal request is a search warrant,” the iPhone-maker said in its transparency report.

National security orders are more vague, as they include orders from FISA and National Security Letters. Apple says it has not received any orders for bulk data, but it has received 1,250 to 1,499 National Security Orders, which affect 1,000 to 1,249 accounts.

Access requests from law enforcement are a hot topic these days, as Apple continues to battle the Justice Department against its request that Apple weaken its encryption. Law enforcement agencies across the country are having trouble in criminal investigations, as growing numbers of commercial devices have encryption turned on by default. That limits the access investigators have when trying to pry into criminal’s phones, which could potentially hold useful information.

Apple and the majority of tech, legal, crytography, and cybersecurity experts agree that weakening encryption to offer backdoor access for the government would only threaten the public’s security and privacy.

Smart Home

ConnectSense’s next plug iteration makes a home smart without a hub

The newest smart outlet in the ConnectSense line of smart home products not only provides a dual plug but can also operate independently of a smart home home, allowing users to control devices directly through an app.

Here's our guide to how to charge your laptop using a USB-C cable

Charging via USB-C is a great way to power up your laptop. It only takes one cable and you can use the same one for data as well as power -- perfect for new devices with limited port options.

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 — will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

Our favorite Windows apps will help you get the most out of your new PC

Not sure what apps you should be downloading for your newfangled Windows device? Here are the best Windows apps, whether you need something to speed up your machine or access your Netflix queue. Check out our categories and favorite picks.

The Galaxy S10 may be announced before MWC, sell for up to $1,750

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Amazon slashes price of 2018 iPad to under $250 in time for Christmas

Whether you love Apple or prefer Android, this 2018 iPad 32GB tablet deal is rather tempting. If you're still on the hunt for gifts, then this deep discount from Amazon makes now an excellent time to pick one up.

Midrange phones can’t do A.I., but MediaTek’s P90 chip aims to change that

MediaTek has announced the Helio P90 mobile processor, which it says will bring the best A.I. features we see on high-end smartphones, to the mid-range. We spoke to the company about the chip.

How to use the ECG app, set up irregular rhythm notifications on the Apple Watch

The Apple Watch Series 4 is the best smartwatch iPhone owners can own, and it just got even better with the addition of the ECG app and ability to identify irregular heart rhythms. Here's how to set it all up.
Home Theater

Common AirPods problems, and how to fix them

Apple’s AirPods are among the best fully wireless earbuds we’ve seen, but they’re not perfect. If you’re having trouble, take a look at our guide to the most common problems and what you can do to fix them.

The LG V40 ThinQ, G7 ThinQ, and Watch W7 are discounted for the holidays

LG announced a series of deals for the holiday season where you can buy the company's two flagship phones, the V40 ThinQ and G7 ThinQ, as well as its latest smartwatch, for between $150 and $200 off, depending on the device.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.

G’day, Google: U.S. users can now give Assistant a British or Australian accent

U.S. Google Assistant users can give their Assistant a different voice. Google has updated Assistant with the ability for users to give it either a British or Australian accent, which could make it a little more personal for some.