Apple and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have been at odds over the tight security on iPhone and iPad devices, and in particular the Cupertino company's unwillingness to build a back door into iOS for law enforcement officials to use. Be that as it may, Apple does cooperate with law enforcement, and is said to be erecting a website that will make it easier for police and other officials to request and obtain information on iPhone users.
This is not to say that if you are an iPhone user, suddenly your information will be up for grabs, at least not willy-nilly. In a letter sent by Apple General Counsel Kate Adams to US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RH) and read by Reuters, Adams points out that Apple has responded to 14,000 US law enforcement requests last year. A couple hundred of those were "domestic emergency responses," and in most cases, Apple responded within 20 minutes.
So why build a website? Apple is essentially trying to streamline the process while simultaneously train law enforcement officials for what types of data they can and cannot obtain. As it stands, Apple handles data request through email. The new website, when it's built, will allow law enforcement officials to make and track data requests using an online tool.
Apple will also shift some of its training to the online portal. In the letter, Adams notes that Apple trained close to 1,000 law enforcement officers on how to request and obtain data. This was done in person, at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino. But with the new website that is going up, officers will receiving training online. This will also make it easier for smaller police departments to receiving training, both here in the US and abroad.
This is something we'll be keeping an eye on, as making it easier for officials to extract data about a company's customers has obvious privacy implications. From our vantage point, it looks like Apple is modernizing the process for legal data requests, and if that is the case, this is a good thing.