While much of the tech community is still swooning over the iPhone 6, Apple Pay and Apple Watch, the company’s top executive is spending a lot of time and energy trying to reassure customers that Apple is doing everything it can to protect their privacy and the security of their data.
Apple CEO Tim Cook earlier this week said in an interview with Charlie Rose that the company has no ability to read users’ iMessages, which are encrypted as they flow through Apple’s servers. He went so far as to say that the company could not even decrypt the messages if so ordered by the government.
“Our view is, when we design a new service, we try not to collect data. So we’re not reading your email. We’re not reading your iMessage. If the government laid a subpoena to get iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted and we don’t have a key. And so it’s sort of, the door is closed,” Cook told Rose.
On Wednesday, Apple published a new Web site devoted to giving users a better understanding of the company’s privacy policies and practices, and Cook said in an open letter to users that Apple has not worked secretly with the FBI or NSA to give them unfettered access to the company’s servers for surveillance or data collection.
“Finally, I want to be absolutely clear that we have never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services. We have also never allowed access to our servers. And we never will,” Cook said.
“Our commitment to protecting your privacy comes from a deep respect for our customers. We know that your trust doesn’t come easy. That’s why we have and always will work as hard as we can to earn and keep it.”
Apple also published some more data on government requests for information for the first six months of 2014, which shows the company received 789 law enforcement requests for account information from United States agencies in the first six months of this year. Of those, Apple provided some content for 155 requests and provided non-content data in 449 cases. Non-content data includes information such as subscriber or transactional data, and content data includes iCloud email, contacts, photos, contacts and calendar data. Overall, Apple provided some data for 77 percent of U.S. government requests.
The new Apple data also reveals that the company received between zero and 249 National Security Letters in this reporting period. The government only allows companies to publish broad ranges of data on how many NSLs they receive. Apple also said that it had not received any government orders for large amounts of user data under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
“To date, Apple has not received any orders for bulk data,” the report says.