Apple, a company that gained fame for its well-publicized standoff against police who wanted the secrets held in the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino mass shooters, now says it wants to be a good partner with law enforcement.
The company said this week that by the end of the year, it will launch a portal for law enforcement officers who have what Apple terms “lawful requests for information,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.
“We believe that law enforcement agencies play a critical role in keeping our society safe and we’ve always maintained that if we have information we will make it available when presented with valid legal process,” Apple said in a new statement on its website.
Apple maintained on its site that it will strike the right balance.
“We’ll continue working for greater transparency and data security protections on behalf of our customers. Apple has never created a backdoor or master key to any of our products or services. We have also never allowed any government direct access to Apple servers. And we never will,” the site said.
However, Apple also touted its track record of working with police.
Apple said it has a “team of dedicated professionals within our legal department who manage and respond to all legal requests received from law enforcement agencies globally” and provides training to teach law enforcement how to request data in alignment with Apple’s rules.
Apple said it will do more.
“We are building a team of professionals dedicated to training law enforcement officers globally, which will significantly increase our ability to reach smaller police forces and agencies. This will include the development of an online training module for officers,” Apple wrote.
“This will assist Apple in training a larger number of law enforcement agencies and officers globally, and ensure that our company’s information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape,” it said.
Also this past week, Apple responded to a report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which discussed balancing privacy and security. One of its main questions was a basic one: In a changing landscape, who has what data?
“Increasingly, information that is critical is digital, and it’s in the hands of third-parties tech providers that control and manage so much information about their users and customers, and law enforcement with adequate privacy protections should be able to access that data,” said Jennifer Daskal, a co-author of the CSIS report, Business Insider reported.
She said the two sides have faced an inability to communicate.
“Law enforcement, generally, was incredibly frustrated with what they saw as a lack of clarity from service providers about what they needed to do to get information, such that some suggested that service providers were trying to thwart access in some cases,” Daskal said.
“Whereas service providers from their perspective seemed to be concerned that law enforcement in their view was asking for information that they didn’t have or making requests that were overbroad or from the service providers perspective inappropriate or without sufficient limitations, with respect to time, for example,” she added.
Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island was told by Kate Adams, senior vice president and general counsel for Apple, that Apple’s new actions are in the spirit of the report.
“As the CSIS report finds, the rapidly changing nature of technology makes law enforcement’s job more complex,” she wrote.
During 2017, she said that Apple responded to more than 14,000 requests from various levels of law enforcement involving more than 62,000 devices, accounts or other identifiers.
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