Apple to require court order before supplying user data to law enforcement

Both Google and Apple confirmed that they have received such requests from officials.

Katie Daviscourt Seattle WA
In a new policy update, Apple said it will no longer hand over its users' push notification data to law enforcement without a court order.

The new policy aims to limit the facilitation of government surveillance and the update is reflected in Apple's Government and Law Enforcement guidelines, Reuters reports.

The decision follows concerns brought up by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) who recently acknowledged that officials had been requesting push notification data from Apple and Google. Google's policy already requires a court order, according to the outlet.

Wyden explained that push notifications travel over Apple and Google servers which puts the two companies "in a unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps." The notifications give Apple and Google insight into the flow of traffic from apps to users.

Wyden told Reuters that Apple was "doing the right thing by matching Google and requiring a court order to hand over push notification related data."

Both Google and Apple confirmed that they have received such requests from officials. Apple supplemented its guidelines with a provision stating that access to such data required "a subpoena or greater legal process." The text has been revised to incorporate references to warrant requirements that are more rigorous.

"For all requests from government and law enforcement agencies within the United States for content, with the exception of emergency circumstances (defined in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 1986, as amended), Apple will only provide content in response to a search warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause, or customer consent," the guideline says.

Adding that, "Apple will provide customer content, as it exists in the customer’s account, only in response to such legally valid process."
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