It's been nearly two weeks now since we heard about the American PRISM program that was collating huge amounts of digital communication data from some of the world's biggest tech firms, with the supposed purpose being to help the authorities route out terrorists. However, since then, many of the technology companies that the leak claimed to be in bed with the NSA, have denied more than occasionally handing over data on a few select individuals, not the bottom trawling style collection that we were led to believe was being conducted. Now though, Apple has come forward and said that it hasn't even heard of PRISM.
According to the iPhone maker, it “first heard of the government’s ‘Prism' program when news organizations asked [Apple] about it on 6th June.” The spokesperson went on to say, that it does not provide any government agency with direct access to servers and if any organisation wanted to have information on any of its customers, that group would need to get a court order.
However, this does not mean that Apple doesn't hand over data to the authorities; it does so, quite regularly. The spokesperson continued by saying (via The Telegraph) that: “From December 1, 2012 to May 31, 2013, Apple received between 4,000 and 5,000 requests from US law enforcement for customer data,” says Apple. “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 most common form of request comes 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.”
The Apple spokesperson clarified that in all instances it handed over the bare minimum of data, sticking within the bounds of the initial request. They also pointed out that services like FaceTime and iMessage are protected by encryption that not even Apple has access too. It also denied storing customer data such as location and Siri requests.
Kitguru Says: That this with a mild pinch of salt though, as it wasn't that long ago that it was discovered all iPhones were tracking their owners and storing it locally on the device.