Well at least someone’s coming clean around here…
On Tuesday, Apple released a set of statements along with official figures that went into a somewhat-detailed report of the number of information requests for account information that the NSA has put into Apple since they started asking four years ago. “Somewhat-detailed”, because although they were allowed to reveal specifics when it came to intrusions of privacy on foreign soil, as soon as things got domestic the vague fairy swooped in and waved her wand over the proceedings post-haste.
All in all Apple was legally required to respond to requests in 31 countries, many of which are allies of the United States and would (and likely will) be infuriated to see such a brazen abuse of their citizens taking place with no concern for the other governments and officials in charge.
“At the time of this report,” Apple notes, “the U.S. government does not allow Apple to disclose, except in broad ranges, the number of national security orders, the number of accounts affected by the orders, or whether content, such as emails, was disclosed. We strongly oppose this gag order, and Apple has made the case for relief from these restrictions in meetings and discussions with the White House, the U.S. Attorney General, congressional leaders, and the courts.”
The quote goes on to suggest something truly fiendish was happening over at Fort Meade, Marlyand: “In very rare cases,” the report says about account requests, “we are asked to provide stored photos or email. We consider these requests very carefully and only provide account content in extremely limited circumstances.”
You read that right. If requested, Apple would be forced to provide the personal, private photos of its users to the United States government, under a gag order, or risk imprisonment of every employee in charge of the decision to disobey. This isn’t coersion with tact, it’s a brute force, overwhelming reality that if you run a technology company on American soil, there’s someone else out there who knows about it and is probably interested in what goes on in your building.
In the end, Apple is one of the few silicon-slingers I still maintain a shred of trust for, and their closing paragraph was of great comfort in this uncertain and unreliable era of mass, dragnet-style surveillance for every man woman and child on the planet.
“Perhaps most important, our business does not depend on collecting personal data. We have no interest in amassing personal information about our customers. We protect personal conversations by providing end-to-end encryption over iMessage and FaceTime. We do not store location data, Maps searches, or Siri requests in any identifiable form. … Unlike many other companies dealing with requests for customer data from government agencies, Apple’s main business is not about collecting information.”
Here at VPNCreative we believe that no matter what country you’re from, privacy, security, and peace of mind are a basic human right. That’s why we encourage everyone to take as many precautions as possible before signing up to new accounts or disclosing any information you might not want used against you later in a court of law.