Apple says it didn’t know Trump’s DOJ was asking for data from Democrats
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks as President Donald Trump listens during an American Technology Council panel discussion in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday, June 19, 2017, in Washington.
Alex Brandon | PA
Apple said on Friday he was unaware that the Justice Department of former President Donald Trump was request metadata from Democratic lawmakers when he complied with a subpoena requesting information.
Apple’s admission that it has complied with DOJ’s request demonstrates the thorny position tech companies are placed in when forced to balance their customers’ private online activity with legitimate requests. law enforcement. Typically, companies like Apple dispute such claims, but in this case, a grand jury and federal judge forced Apple to comply and remain silent.
Admission follows a Thursday New York Times Report that Trump’s DOJ has seized at least a dozen files from people close to the House intelligence panel related to reports of the former president’s contacts with Russia. At the time, the DOJ was looking for documents from House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., And committee member Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
Apple said it received a federal grand jury summons on February 6, 2018. According to Apple, the summons requested data that belonged to a seemingly random group of email addresses and phone numbers. Apple said it provided the credentials it had for some of the DOJ’s requests, but not all of the requests were for Apple customers.
Due to a non-disclosure order signed by a federal judge, Apple was unable to notify people that their data had been subpoenaed. The so-called gag was lifted on May 5, which is why Apple only recently alerted affected users. According to Apple, the summons did not provide details on the nature of the investigation.
Apple spokesman Fred Sainz said in a statement that the company did not and could not know who was the subject of the request.
“We regularly challenge warrants, subpoenas and nondisclosure orders and it is our policy to notify affected clients of government inquiries about them as soon as possible,” Sainz said in the statement. “In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a non-disclosure order signed by a federal judge, provided no information about the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible. for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging into users’ accounts. In accordance with the request, Apple has limited the information provided to the subscriber information of the account and has not provided any content such as emails or images. “
Apple also said that due to the nature of the subpoena, it believes other tech companies have received similar orders from the DOJ.
Microsoft Friday, told CNBC he received a similar subpoena from the DOJ.
“In 2017, Microsoft received a subpoena related to a personal email account,” a Microsoft spokesperson told CNBC. “As we have said before, we believe that customers have a constitutional right to know when the government requests their email or documents, and we have a right to tell them. In this case, we have been barred from doing so. ‘Inform the client for more than two years due to a gag order. As soon as the gag order expired, we informed the client who told us he was a congressional staff member. then briefed the representative’s staff on this advice Reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.
The DOJ watchdog is currently investigating the investigation under Trump’s tenure.