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Apple Sees Spike in U.S. National Security Requests

Apple Inc. said it has received more than four times as many national-security related requests from the US government in the first half of this year compared to a year ago.

According to its latest company report, Apple said it had received between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests affecting between 9,000 and 9,249 users in the first six months of the year.

Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor

United States (4E) – Apple Inc. said it has received more than four times as many national-security related requests from the US government in the first half of this year compared to a year ago.

According to its latest company report, Apple said it had received between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests affecting between 9,000 and 9,249 users in the first six months of the year.

The figures are well-above the range of 2,750 and 2,999 requests affecting between 2,000 and 2,249 accounts as recorded in the first semester in 2016.

The requests come in the form of National Security Letters, or NSLs, and requests under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance law.

NSLs are a type of government subpoena for communications data sent to service providers. Thsee are usually issued with a gag order which means the target is often unaware that records are being accessed without the need for a warrant.

Disclosing such reports are voluntary. Apple and other technology companies only reveal ranges because government rules prevent disclosing exact numbers.

Both Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc. have yet to report theirs for this year.

The trigger that drove sharp increases in requests to Apple was not immediately clear.

A staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), however, said the number of government requests to technology firms has since been growing starting 2014 when data first started to become as agreed between technology firms and the government.

“There’s not a huge track record here, but you can start to make a simple graph. The trend does seem to be upward,” EFF’s Andrew Crocker said while noting that the increase in requests may signal that the firm is advancing to be at par with competitors.

Despite achieving 1.2 billion sales for iPhones, Apple’s number of had been considerably lower than that of Google or Microsoft.

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