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Apple Inc (AAPL.O) plans to create an online tool for police to formally request data about its users and to assemble a team to train police about what data can and cannot be obtained from the iPhone maker, according to a company letter seen by Reuters.
Additionally, the letter covers the following:
- Apple will create a special portal for law enforcement officials to legally request and receive user data from Apple, according to a letter sent to a senator and obtained by Business Insider.
- Apple responded to over 14,000 police requests including 231 “domestic emergency” requests in 2017, according to the letter.
- These actions are not related to the “going dark” issue, where government officials are pressuring tech companies to build features that could crack encryption on devices like the iPhone.
- But the letter shows that Apple is comfortable working with law enforcement when they have subpoenas and other legal requests for data.
The letter, dated Sept. 4, was from Apple General Counsel Kate Adams to U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island.
Apple declined to comment beyond the letter.
Apple can and does provide some user data, such as data stored in its iCloud online service, to law enforcement officials if they make a valid legal request.
But Apple has sparred with U.S. law enforcement officials because it encrypts its devices in such a way that Apple cannot access the devices if asked to do so.
The company said in its letter that it had responded to 14,000 U.S. law enforcement requests last year, including 231 “domestic emergency requests,” that it largely addressed within 20 minutes of receipt “regardless of the time of day or night.”
“Regardless of what happens in the encryption debate, these are efforts that ought to be undertaken,” Jennifer C. Daskal, one of the report’s authors, told Reuters. “Law enforcement needs to know about, and be able to access, the data that is available.”
Apple participated in the study by responding to questions from the researchers, as did other technology companies.