Apple is opening up your data to law enforcement with a secure portal
Apple aims to launch a Law Enforcement Support Program by the end of 2018. The web portal allows law enforcement officers around the world to submit requests for information about Apple’s users, it has announced.
The platform will allow authenticated law enforcement officers to submit their requests, track them and obtain a response from Apple, all on one platform. According to Apple’s Transparency Reports, a twice-yearly report where Apple documents requests it’s received and responded to, the company complies with around 80% of requests sent.
In addition, Apple has announced it’s committed to training law enforcement officers on the process of submitting a request. This is so they can make the process as accessible as possible, reaching smaller police forces who wouldn’t normally receive such training programs.
Despite an increased pledge to assisting law enforcement, Apple has re-assured its users that their privacy is still paramount. “Apple is committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users,” the company outlined in a statement. “The above developments and the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment.[sic]”.
The launch of this portal is in response to a recent study from the Centre for Strategic & International Studies on the way the justice process must adapt to a digital age. The study included actionable points for various organisations, from law enforcement to Congress and service providers.
In a letter from Apple’s Senior Vice President, Katherine Adams, to Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Adams writes that she is “eager to adopt these recommendations”. Her letter, which pre-empted the announcement of the Law Enforcement Support Program, recognises Apple’s responsibility in the justice process, and pledges to continue this work.
Apple’s relationship with law enforcement has been tumultuous, with the most famous case being its clash with the FBI in the case of the 2015 San Bernadino shooting. However, as previously documented, the majority of requests for data are successful.
With technology becoming increasingly relevant in crime investigations (both to prosecute and to defend), Apple’s statement shows an awareness of the responsibilities it holds as the keeper of important data.