Apple opens up — barely — on Hong Kong’s nationwide safety legislation – TechCrunch


After Beijing unilaterally imposed a brand new nationwide safety legislation on Hong Kong on July 1, many noticed the transfer as an effort by Beijing to crack down on dissent and protests within the semi-autonomous area.

Quickly after, quite a lot of tech giants — together with Microsoft, Twitter and Google — mentioned they might cease processing requests for person knowledge from Hong Kong authorities, fearing that the requested knowledge might find yourself within the arms of Beijing.

However Apple was noticeably absent from the record. As an alternative, Apple mentioned it was “assessing” the brand new legislation.

When reached by TechCrunch, Apple didn’t say what number of requests for person knowledge it had acquired from Hong Kong authorities for the reason that new nationwide safety legislation went into impact. However the firm reiterated that it doesn’t obtain requests for person content material immediately from Hong Kong. As an alternative, it depends on a long-established so-called mutual authorized help treaty, permitting U.S. authorities to first assessment requests from international governments.

Apple mentioned it shops iCloud knowledge for Hong Kong customers in the USA, so any requests by Hong Kong authorities for person content material needs to be first permitted by the Justice Division, and a warrant needs to be issued by a U.S. federal choose earlier than the information could be handed over to Hong Kong.

The corporate mentioned that it acquired a restricted variety of non-content requests from Hong Kong associated to fraud or stolen units, and that the variety of requests it acquired from Hong Kong authorities for the reason that introduction of the nationwide safety legislation might be included in an upcoming transparency report.

Hong Kong authorities made 604 requests for gadget data, 310 requests for monetary knowledge, and 10 requests for person account knowledge throughout 2019.

The report additionally mentioned that Apple acquired 5,295 requests from U.S. authorities throughout the second half of final yr for knowledge associated to 80,235 units, a seven-fold improve from the earlier six months.

Apple additionally acquired 4,095 requests from U.S. authorities for person knowledge saved in iCloud on 31,780 accounts, twice the variety of accounts affected throughout the earlier six months.

A lot of the requests associated to ongoing return and restore fraud investigations, Apple mentioned.

The report mentioned it acquired 2,522 requests from U.S. authorities to protect knowledge on 6,741 person accounts, permitting legislation enforcement to acquire the fitting authorized course of to entry the information.

Apple additionally mentioned it acquired between 0-499 nationwide safety requests for non-content knowledge on between 15,500 and 15,999 customers or accounts, a rise of 40% on the earlier report.

Tech firms are solely allowed to report the variety of nationwide safety requests in ranges, per guidelines set out by the Justice Division.

The corporate additionally revealed two FBI nationwide safety letters, or NSLs, from 2019, which the corporate petitioned to make public. These letters are subpoenas issued by the FBI with no judicial oversight and infrequently with a gag order stopping the corporate from disclosing their existence. For the reason that introduction of the Freedom Act in 2015, the FBI was required to periodically assessment the gag orders and raise them after they had been now not deemed vital.

Apple additionally mentioned it acquired 54 requests from governments to take away 258 apps from its app retailer. China filed the overwhelming majority of requests.

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