Constitutional Principles

Has Apple Received New Patriot Act Demands?


Earlier today, Collapse reported that Apple said it will not unlock iPads and iPhones running iOS 8 for police, even with a warrant. But it looks like the news isn’t all good if you’re concerned about privacy.

Gigaom reports that the tech giant included language in its first Transparency Report in late 2013 that said it had never been subject to a Section 215 Patriot Act request. It stated:

“Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.”

As noted in the report, this may have been a warrant canary. A warrant canary is a tool used by companies and publishers that signifies that they haven’t been subject to a given type of law enforcement request. If it disappears, it means the company has likely received such a request.

According to the story, Apple’s warrant canary is now gone. Gigaom says this is significant because Section 215 of the Patriot Act allows the NSA to demand business records to be turned over in secret. It is believed to be the legal foundation for the PRISM program that required companies like Google and Yahoo to collect data, according to the report.

The report says the fact that Apple no longer has a warrant canary posted suggests it is now involved in FISA or PRISM proceedings.

What do you think? Is Apple now subject to Patriot Act demands? What does this mean for the privacy of its customers?

Photo credit: Flickr/storem