Apple changes how it reports the US national security requests

FILE PHOTO: The different colours of the recently released Apple iPhone XR are seen following the product launch event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California, USA September 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

(Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) on Thursday changed the way it reports on the AMERICAN national security requests for user data, which will make the procedures more in line with that of the technology rivals such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Alphabet, Inc. ‘ s (GOOGL.O) Of Google.

In the first half of 2018 transparency report on government requests for data to the Apple web site separate from the National Security Letters and requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. Apple had the combined figures for the two items from the beginning of the report in 2014.

Apple had previously been the publication of the total number of its earlier than other technology companies that broke them out separately because of the FISA numbers are subject to a six-month reporting delay by the law.

Apple will also report the number of FISA requests for content from a user and not to ask about such content.

The changes mean that the longer delays in Apple’s reporting of the total national security requests. But the new format is similar to that for companies such as Microsoft and Google, is to make it easier for researchers and the public to compare.

From January to June, Apple received between 0 to 499 National Security Letters, which function a bit like subpoenas, in connection with 1,000 to 1,499 users, the company said. Because of the changes, Apple did not cite the number of FISA requests received for the first half of 2018, but will do so after Dec. 31.

Apple on Thursday also changed the way it presents the data at the request of the government, the launch of an interactive website makes it easier for consumers to see government requests for data in their own country. It also provided the raw data in a format that makes it easier for researchers to upload in software programs.

Apple said that it received 4,177 “account requests” from the government in connection with 40,641 users. Law enforcement officials can search for information such as photos, e-mail, device back-ups which can consist of text messages, contacts, or calendars.

Earlier this year, Apple said that the streamlining of the online tools it offers for law enforcement officials request for information and offer training on what kind of data officials can obtain the iPhone-maker.

Reporting by Stephen Nellis; Editing by Richard Chang

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