Apple Tightens Rules on Customer Data Requests From Law Enforcement
Apple Inc. (AAPL.O) has updated its law enforcement guidelines, stating that a judge’s order is now required for the release of information related to customers’ push notifications. This move aligns Apple’s policy with that of its competitor Google, marking a significant shift in the approach to app data requests by law enforcement.
The revised policy, though not officially announced, was observed on Apple’s publicly available law enforcement guidelines in the past few days. This adjustment comes on the heels of revelations by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, disclosing that authorities were seeking push notification data from both Apple and Google, the Alphabet (GOOGL.O) subsidiary responsible for the Android operating system.
Push notifications, used by various apps to notify smartphone users of messages, news updates, and more, often traverse Google and Apple’s servers. Senator Wyden expressed concern over this practice, highlighting that it provides the two tech giants with unique insights into the traffic generated by these apps, enabling them to play a role in government surveillance of users’ app usage.
In a letter unveiled last week, Wyden emphasised that such requests for data were received by both Apple and Google. Apple’s guidelines initially mentioned the availability of such data “with a subpoena or greater legal process.” However, the passage has been revised to specify more stringent requirements, now mentioning the necessity of a court-issued warrant.
While Apple has not issued an official statement, Google has not yet responded to requests for comment on the matter. Senator Wyden commended Apple’s updated stance, stating that the company is “doing the right thing by matching Google and requiring a court order to hand over push notification related data.” This move raises the threshold for law enforcement officials seeking access to app-related information, reflecting a growing emphasis on user privacy and legal due process in the tech industry.
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