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Apple claims it can't decrypt FaceTime and iMessage data, details extent of government requests

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Apple passcode
Apple passcode

In the wake of the PRISM scandal, Apple has issued a public statement detailing the extent of US government data requests. In the statement, it repeats that it does not provide any agency with direct access to its servers, noting that all requests for customer data need to be backed by a court order. In an effort to be transparent, the Cupertino-based manufacturer revealed the number of data requests it received in the six month period ending May 31st.

The most common requests have nothing to do with national security

Apple received "between 4,000 and 5,000 requests" relating to "between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices" from federal, state, and local authorities. These requests related to both criminal investigations and national security matters, but the most common were regarding "robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer's disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide."

Apple can't decrypt iMessage and FaceTime data

Noting that it "work[s] hard to strike the right balance" between obeying the law and protecting privacy, Apple goes on to reiterate past statements, noting that its legal team evaluates each request individually and only gives the "narrowest possible set of information to the authorities." It also notes that it has refused to fulfill requests for "certain categories of information," and says it can't decrypt iMessage and FaceTime data, as it's encrypted end-to-end. iMessage made news back in April when a leaked DEA memo noted that iMessage encryption was uncrackable. Finally, it says it does not store user data on location, Map searches or Siri requests "in any identifiable form."