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Tuesday, 11 September 2018 11:18

Apple creating online tool for cops to make data demands

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Apple creating online tool for cops to make data demands Pixabay

Apple is in the process of creating an online tool for law enforcement officers to make formal demands for data about its users, a report claims.

Reuters  reported that the Cupertino-based tech giant was also setting up a group that would train police as to what kinds of data could be obtained and what was off-limits.

The news agency said the information had been in a letter, dated 4 September, sent by Apple general counsel Kate Adams to Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

In 2016, Apple refused to yield to an FBI demand to create a version of its iOS operating system that could be loaded on an iPhone 5C belonging to a terrorist involved in an attack in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015.

The FBI got a court order compelling Apple to break into the device, but the company resisted. In the end, the FBI paid US$900,000 to an Israeli company named Cellebrite to access the passcode on the phone and ended the stoush before it came to court.

Since then, politicians from a number of countries, including Australia, have called for a means of breaking encryption in order to hunt down criminals. Australia is in the process of bedding down a law to make it an offence for technology companies to refuse to provide a means for law enforcement to access mobile devices.

In the letter, Adams wrote that Apple had dealt with 14,000 requests from law enforcement in 2017, including 231 emergency requests to each of which it responded within 20 minutes.

While such requests were handled via email, once the online tool was created by end-2018, it would be used instead to make and track requests.

As to the training of police officers, the letter said 1000 had already been trained in person at Apple's headquarters, but once the online tool was ready, the training would be done online.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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