New Apple Policy Requires Court Order For Customer Data

To better protect its users, Apple will now require a court order from a judge to hand over information about its customers’ push notifications to law enforcement.

The new policy appeared on the tech giant’s website a few days ago without a formal announcement. The decision came after Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) voiced his concerns over officials requesting push notification data from Apple and Google, whose policy already requires a court order for customer information.

Both companies have confirmed that they have received inquiries for user information. Apple added to its guidelines that “a subpoena or greater legal process” is required to access such information.

“For all requests from government and law enforcement agencies within the United States for content, except for emergency circumstances (defined in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act 1986, as amended), Apple will only provide content in response to a search warrant issued upon a showing of probable cause, or customer consent,” the guideline states.

“Apple will provide customer content, as it exists in the customer’s account, only in response to such legally valid process,” the guideline adds.

Wyden stated that Apple was “doing the right thing by following Google’s lead and requiring a court order to hand over push notification-related data.”

This new policy also comes after a congressional hearing on Tuesday when Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) questioned FBI Director Christopher Wray on the agency’s supposed warrantless surveillance of Americans using companies like Apple and Google.

Lee established that out of 103 times that the FBI should have obtained a court order for customer communication in 2018, records indicated that they received zero.

“This is disgraceful,” Lee told Wray, “The Fourth Amendment requires more than that, and you know it.”

Like Wyden, Lee also found it troubling that law enforcement could seize Americans’ information without a court order. The two senators introduced a bill last month to reform laws such as Section 702, which allows law enforcement to spy on Americans without a court order.