Apple transparency report: Here's how many devices the U.S. government tried to access in 2020

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Apple transparency report: Here's how many devices the U.S. government tried to access in the second
Twice a year, Apple has the habit of releasing its transparency report, which details the statistics related to third-party requests for personal data or records stored on Apple's servers. And Apple receives thousands of such requests from governments and other agencies all around the world on a regular basis, which it records, no matter whether those requests have been complied with or not. 

Thanks to a report by CNET, we now know that Apple's transparency report from the second half of last year has finally been published. One of the most interesting things to take away from it is perhaps the fact that government and private party requests for information have moderately declined in numbers from the previous year. Namely, the data requests have dropped by almost half, compared to 2019.

This is particularly interesting given the data breach scandals surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential election (when this transparency report was being collected), with data and privacy breaches running rampant all over the place.

Similarly to the decline in data requests, the cases where Apple complied with those requests has also dropped, down to 77% (worldwide) from 80% in 2019. The number of devices Apple received requests for in the second half of last year is recorded as 83,307.

While Apple doesn't always have the freedom to disclose all the information around government-issued data requests, the company did say the U.S. sought access to around twenty-five thousand Apple accounts with relation to national security (under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act).

The FBI also sent hundreds of National Security Letters to Apple, with the Bureau going after about a thousand Apple accounts during the latter half of 2020.

As for international data requests, Germany wins the award for the biggest count, as it apparently tried to access a total of 16,819 devices. China follows after, ending the second half of the year with 11,372 requests. Interestingly, this is 13 times as many requests as China made in 2019, when they made less than a thousand requests for data. 

You can also read the full transparency report which Apple just officially published.


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