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Apple has released its twice-yearly transparency report, this time covering the second half of 2020. The new report details data requests from governments and other agencies around the world. Apple says that it received requests during the second half of 2020 covering 83,307 devices, which is just under half as many during the same time period in 2019.
As first spotted by CNET, the document shows that Apple provided data in 77% of those requests, which is down from 80% during the same time period in 2019. The CNET report notes that the drastic decline in requests is particularly interesting because this report from Apple covers the same time period of the 2020 US presidential election:
Apple’s data indicated a surprising drop in government data requests despite the fixating spectacle of the 2020 US presidential election. Four years earlier, hackers successfully spread stolen emails and other embarrassing material across the internet, spawning conspiracy theories that persist to this day. During the 2020 election, social media companies including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube said they’d ramped up efforts to tamp down on disinformation and spread of potentially hacked material.
In terms of specific countries, Germany made the most requests for device data, sending requests for data from 16,819 devices, down from 19,633 in the second half of 2019. The Chinese government sought data on 11,372 devices, a major increase from the 851 requests in the year prior.
As for the United States:
Apple said national security-related requests made by the US under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) targeted as many as 24,499 accounts, which could include stores photos, emails, contacts, calendars or device backups. Apple said it received as many as 499 National Security Letters from the FBI for subscriber information, targeting as many as 999 accounts. Apple said it does not produce transaction information or connection logs in those instances.
Finally, for the App Store worldwide, Apple reports that it received 39 legal violations takedown requests covering 206 applications. China accounted for 26 of those requests covering 90 applications, followed by India making six requests covering 102 applications. Apple removed all 206 of the applications requested.