The Apple company said Monday it had received as many as 5,000 requests from U.S. law enforcement for customer data over the past six months.
In an online statement issued June 17
, Apple said it had received “between 4,000 and 5,000 requests” from U.S. law enforcement for customer data and “between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters.”
The company said the most common types of requests were 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.”
Apple said the company does “not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order."
It said the company’s legal team evaluates requests and responds with “the narrowest possible set of information to the authorities." Apple said some requests for information were impossible to provide because the company does not retain it.
Apple’s revelation follows Facebook’s June 14 statement
that the social media giant had received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from law enforcement through in the last six months of 2012. The company added that those requests involved between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.
Microsoft also revealed
on June 14 that it had received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts.”
The requests for customer information were made as a part of the recently revealed and highly classified PRISM program run by the National Security Agency. The existence of PRISM was revealed this month by The Washington Post
newspapers and has ignited a debate about the level of government eavesdropping is needed for national security.