Apple Publishes Rare Statement on PRISM Connection Rumors

“We first heard of the government’s ‘Prism’ program […] on June 6,” says Apple

A statement titled “Apple’s Commitment to Customer Privacy” is available on Apple’s PR site as of today, an effort to convince the public that the Cupertino giant doesn’t betray users by handing over their personal information to government agencies.

The Mac maker maintains its stance from two weeks ago when tech companies were accused of sharing customer data with the feds.

“We first heard of the government’s ‘Prism’ program when news organizations asked us about it on June 6,” it states.

Apple upholds that it doesn’t provide government agencies with access to its servers. In fact, “any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order,” the company stresses.

In order to be able to publish this statement, the company had to contact the U.S. government and ask for permission to report the number of requests it receives related to national security issues, as well as a few notes on how these requests are processed within Apple.

“We have been authorized to share some of that data, and we are providing it […] in the interest of transparency,” the company says.

It then proceeds to reveal that Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data from December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013.

In those requests, between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified, “and included both criminal investigations and national security matters.”

Apple provides a few rough examples of the situations where such disclosures are not only well justified, but downright imperative (such as cases where a person’s life depends on that data).

“The most common form of request comes 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,” says Apple.

It also maintains that its Legal team conducts evaluations for each request in part and “only if appropriate, we retrieve and deliver the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities.”

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