Apple jabs at Google, Facebook in first-ever global transparency report

The US filed 3,542 requests with Apple to receive some information on 88% of them.

Singapore and Germany joined the three countries listed above in having over 1,000 device requests.

Interestingly, the numbers tend to differ widely between device requests and number of devices specified in the request. The US, for example, wanted info on 8,605 devices within its 3,542 requests. Apple explained this is partially due to situations where, for example, law enforcement wants information for a shipment with hundreds of serial numbers.

There are also differences in account requests and the number of accounts in a request, but the figures are closer together.

Fighting Uncle Sam

The report is littered with language about Apple's opposition to the US' "gag order" on providing more specific account request information. The US government imposes the restrictions on just about every company, not just Apple.

Aside from presenting its case to the White House, US Attorney General, congressional leaders and courts, Apple said it's filed an Amicus brief with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court "in support of a group of cases requesting greater transparency."

The brief, sussed out by Foss Patents, shows support "of motions for declaratory judgement" filed by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook and LinkedIn as the companies seek permission to make public the aggregate number of national security requests they receive as well as the number of accounts affected by the requests.

Apple also plans to file another brief later this year in the country's Ninth Circuit in support of a case dealing with National Security Letters. Apple wrote it believes dialogue and advocacy on these matters is more productive than filing lawsuits against the US government.

Finally, Apple said it's never received an order under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, a section made infamous in NSA revelations that it allowed the security agency to sweep up US phone records, among other controversial actions.

"We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us," Apple wrote.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.