Apple reveals extent of Aust govt requests for user data

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Apple reveals extent of Aust govt requests for user data

Info given in more than 50 percent of cases.

Australian law enforcement authorities were among the largest requesters of customer data from consumer giant Apple in the first six months of the year.

In a transparency report released today, Apple revealed local law enforcement agencies made 74 requests for account information and 1178 requests for device information from January to July this year.

Of the 74 requests for user data, which involves customer information relating predominantly to iCloud or iTunes, Apple disclosed the data in 41 cases. 

Australian authorities also wanted information on 1929 Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, iPods and Mac personal computers, contained in 1178 requests. The agencies were after unique identifiers such as serial or IMEI numbers, primarily to assist with cases of theft, Apple said. 

Apple handed over device data in over half — or 695 — of the cases.

Australia was the fourth largest seeker of device information, behind the United States, Germany and Singapore, and the fifth largest for account information. The United States topped both lists. 

Apple said any government agency demanding user account or device information must obtain a valid court order. 

The release of Apple's transparency report follows similar moves by Microsoft, Google and Facebook in the wake of widespread privacy concerns following revelations about the United States' PRISM surveillance program. 

Microsoft reported in March this year that Australian law enforcement officials had filed 2238 requests for user data across all its online services such as Hotmail, Xbox Live and Office 365.

Google's Transparency Report published in June this year showed Australian authorities are the seventh most frequent seekers of user information from online providers on a worldwide basis.

In addition, Facebook recorded 546 requests from local agencies in the six months to June 30 this year.

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