You can rest easy knowing Siri isn’t telling Apple and the NSA about all those searches for where to hide a dead body.
Apple cannot read iMessages or monitor FaceTime calls, nor does the company store user location, map searches and Siri requests in an identifiable form, according to a statement linked from the Apple homepage.
The statement comes soon after the NSA Prism program leaked, just days after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden disappeared from his hotel and congress members attended a secret briefing on the matter, or at least those who could catch a late flight.
In the statement, titled, Apple’s commitment to customer privacy, Apple re-affirms that it does not offer direct access to Apple servers, stating, “any government agency requesting customer content must get a court order.”
Apple processed up to 5,000 U.S. law enforcement requests in the last six months, for up to 10,000 devices. These requests come from a variety of law enforcement agencies, including those investigating “national security matters.”
Apple says the most common requests are for,
…police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer’s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide.
Apple claims the company reviews every request and complies when possible, delivering, “narrowest possible set of information to the authorities.”
Apple cannot share iMessages and FaceTime calls to authorities, and does not store other information about Apple users so that it is not compelled to share it, according to the statement,
For example, conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data. Similarly, we do not store data related to customers’ location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form.
Assuming these claims are true, privacy conscious users may want to start using the FaceTime audio calls built-into iOS 7 instead of traditional phone calls.
Apple is the latest company to respond to accusations of direct access by the NSA Prism program. Gizmodo Australia provides a good explainer of Prism that will catch most users up to what is happening. In a recent House Judiciary hearing, Rep. Jerrold Nadler stated, “We heard precisely that you could get the specific information from that telephone simply based on an analyst deciding that…” explaining that an analyst could allegedly listen into a phone call without a court order.
Google issued a similar statement from CEO Larry Page on June 7th.
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