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back to article Apple: How we slip YOUR data to govts – but, hey, we're not Google

Apple has joined Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo!'s transparency club, releasing a detailed report on the numbers and types of requests for personal records it has received from law enforcement and government agencies around the world. "We have reported all the information we are legally allowed to share," the …

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Who's freaking who?

"...because Apple has not received any information requests from the government there."

then...

"Apple notes, "the U.S. government does not allow Apple to disclose..."

As a reminder to everyone, Apple's phones now have a fingerprint scanner. As long as that scanner can make a unique identifier from a human finger, it can distinguish humans uniquely. So Apple can throw up whatever charts and figures they want, they'll never be transparent under the PATRIOT Act. So why are these companies in my country still pretending they have a choice in the matter? $$$$$

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Re: Who's freaking who?

I would like to add, that the PATRIOT Act is one hell of a bitch.

Pretend England* sends me a letter of "concern". My country (U.S.A.) knows of this letter, and since U.S.A. treats England like a brother from another mother, my country will tell me I can't say shit about this letter, even though it's from England (Contesting England is very much like contesting my own country...very).

Obviously the bond between England and the U.S.A. is overkill, it doesn't have to be even remotely that strong. It could be a letter from a country like "Changing-Dictators-Daily...But-We-Have-Oil" that could force my mouth shut.

* It doesn't even have to be a country, it could just be ma and pa's bootleggers from around the corner...in any country

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Re: Who's freaking who?

The US govt. doesn't have the power to make Apple lie. So while they may be forbidden from saying x, y, or z, if they had been forbidden, it would not serve Apple's interest to lie by saying "we have never been forbidden to say x, y and z." To do such would simply open them up to an otherwise avoidable liability and the chance the truth could be uncovered and do immense damage to the business. They would just remain silent on the subject. That said, section 215 is pretty bad and really should be overturned.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

"The US govt. doesn't have the power to make Apple lie."

What?

Of course they do. What do you think Apple, Google, etc... have been forced to do for all these years, tell half truths? No, they've been forced to lie. If it wasn't for Snowden, they'd still be lying about any involvement at all. If it wasn't for Snowden, companies like Microsoft would still be forced to lie about backdoors in Excel.

Now that the cat is out of the bag, they will of course be forced to lie other ways. Whatever lie creates plausible deniability for both sides will be chosen. If only 1 side can have it, it will be the governments. But make no mistake, the lies will still be forced. What good is a lie if it doesn't sound truthful?

"They would just remain silent on the subject."

No they can't. They have the right to make money and sound respectable, even if they are lying. Now to cover up lies, they are using more lies to slow cash loss.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

@MyBackDoor Extreme scepticism in the face fit he NSA revelations is understandable. But forcing free men or commercial entities to express views they do not believe, is a red line that simply cannot be crossed if you want to hold any semblance of legitimacy as a democratic government. Even the American government hasn't gone that far. Of course there may be instances of agents of state who find themselves pushed into lying for the government, or citizens who find themselves in a compromised position who find they are pressured to lie, but it is a stretch to believe such circumstances exist such as that would have pushed someone as important (and intelligent) as Tim Cook to lie under the current circumstances and that he would not have had the more simple and less compromising option to simply remain silent.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

No, they cannot. USA is a free country, not a Russia or North Korea. And you need a tinfoil. You know, they are out to get you.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Who's freaking who?

forcing free men or commercial entities to express views they do not believe, is a red line that simply cannot be crossed if you want to hold any semblance of legitimacy as a democratic government

I think that legitimacy has since long expired. I would also like to point at the following weasel words in Apple's statement:

We have reported all the information we are legally allowed to share

The need for secrecy was originally for fairly practical purposes: if you tell someone they're under investigation, chances are that you won't find out what bad stuff they're up to. The problem was that such secrecy must expire, and it doesn't. There is another reason why a company may not want to tell you: if they HAVE had to hand off data it's not going to look very good from a marketing perspective. Thankfully, they can always point at mandated government secrecy later to explain why they didn't tell, so not talking about it is a low risk option.

In summary, such statements mean absolutely zip to me. For me, there are no valid arguments to deem them credible.

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DJO
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Re: Who's freaking who?

you want to hold any semblance of legitimacy as a democratic government

But America is not a democracy and seldom even pretends to be one, technically it is a constitutional republic (in the same way the UK is a constitutional monarchy).

If it was democratic everybody would have a vote, if it was democratic voting registration would be unnecessary, the tax authorities know who every body is and where they live so voting documentation could and should be issued automatically, forcing people to claim their voting rights is anti-democratic as it allows those in power to deprive people who might vote against them from voting. Not that the votes cast in the US really matter, firstly if you give Diebold & chums a chance every count will be altered to give the result desired and after that it's the electoral collage that really decides things.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

Perhaps they're saying it now because it's true, and when they stop saying it that's a signal that it has become false.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

Who knew that "Theft of mobile devices" would fall under "Terrorism"..?

What crock pot being cooked up by Tim. Tim hasn't been friend of his customers, when he made available for sale, customer data to make a quick buck.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

Corrections:

"If it was democratic everybody would have a vote". Generally, only citizen are allowed to vote, and I expect that is the general rule in all democratic regimes; children, however defined, also are not generally eligible to vote, and those adjudicated mentally incompetent or convicted of serious crimes often are ineligible. Contrary to the unstated accusation, essentially all others in the US are eligible to vote, and around half of them actually do so. The present flaps over registration, voter ID laws, and gerrymandering are largely political theater on both sides aimed at gaming the system for partisan advantage.

While I think the facts favor manual pen ballot completion over voting machines of any type, and it has been established that the Diebold and other electronic voting machines have vulnerabilities, there is little or no evidence Diebold or orther manufacturers such as Election Systems and Software have acted to affect election outcomes. It's worth noting, too, that the now-preferred optically scanned ballots are, in the implementations I have dealt with, as dependent on uncorrupted software as the touchscreen voting stations.

The Electoral College was established because the electorate as a whole was thought likely to be ill informed and unduly swayed by emotion (see Federalist # 68 for a discussion). While this intent has been undermined by legal and technological changes, some might consider the rise of Tea Party Republicans as clear evidence the framers were quite correct. As an aside, "it's the electoral collage that really decides things" overstates the President's importance in the overall structure of government, an understandable error when the legislators have allowed or encouraged growth of the executive branch to the size it has reached.

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Thumb Down

Re: Who's freaking who?

Theft of mobile devices is not terrorism, and the article does not describe it as such. Apple describes the device requests as arising from accidental loss or the perfectly ordinary criminal activity, both of which can lead to perfectly ordinary and legitimate police inquiries. Trash Apple and the governments for the things they did that were wrong, not those they did right.

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Unhappy

@SuccessCase

"But forcing free men or commercial entities to express views they do not believe, is a red line that simply cannot be crossed if you want to hold any semblance of legitimacy as a democratic government."

In theory no.

"Even the American government hasn't gone that far. "

It has.

Either you know this and have an agenda for denying it or you don't, in which case you're not as well informed about this subject as you seem to think.

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Re: Who's freaking who?

I guess civics classes were dropped along with math and science huh? It's a real shame too. Turns out having those classes provided more value than anyone knew.

The US is a democracy.

Democracy is a broad term that has many different implementations. The only commonality among them being that those who make the laws are granted the power to do so by the citizens. Think about it like Christianity. All the different breeds of Catholics, Protestants and Outright Crazies are still all Christian, they just go about their observances and beliefs differently.

The US has a representative democracy in the form of a constitutional republic. They are two distinctly separate things , and one does not preclude the existence of the other. One is the mechanism for action and the other is how citizens interact with that mechanism.

You're right about the Electoral College, that piece of law is really stupid. It was put in place solely to disenfranchise voters who chose a President that didn't fit with the houses of Congress.

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Anonymous Coward

We don't have much data about users

…because nobody uses our cloud services.

Though Apple is underselling themselves here. They have credit card information for almost all iThing users.

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Re: We don't have much data about users

Is this a quote from another posting or from the article or from the PDF? I tried to find it but didn't have any luck.

The PDF covers the credit card information as explicitly as allowed, I suppose. That's part of the problem that all the companies are legitimately complaining about, isn't it?

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Interesting that Germany runs 2nd right behind the US of A. So much for their famous data protection laws...

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Anonymous Coward

Interesting that Germany runs 2nd right behind the US of A. So much for their famous data protection laws...

Oh no, they're reasonably hot on Data Protection in Germany. They're just a tad dodgy when it comes to stealing data from other countries.

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Can you keep a secret?

So can I!

Life goes on.

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Anonymous Coward

'We do not store location data'

Apple were one of the first companies on the list to be accused of slurping location data. They denied it at first! Did we ever get to the bottom of this? What happened to the slurped data? If users buy an iPad etc today, does it come free of location slurping?

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Re: 'We do not store location data'

The data was stored on the phone and wasn't uploaded to Apple. It was fixed several years ago, shortly after whenever it was discovered.

Yeah, you can say "I don't believe them", just as you could say the same about Google when they were caught slurping actual Wifi traffic during the streetview drive-bys.

For all the complaining people do about the high prices Apple charges, that does at least mean the customer relationship with Apple is different than it is with Facebook or Google. When you buy an Apple product, you're the customer, so they want to keep you happy. When you use Facebook or Google, you're the product, and they're more interested in keeping their true customers, the advertisers who pay to sling ads at you, happy moreso than you, the freeloader who gets their services without paying.

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WTF?

Re: 'We do not store location data'

If people transmit radio signals they shouldn't be surprised if unintended recipients catch them.

All this stupidity about WiFi is just hot air. Pure 'security'/privacy theatre. Users should learn how to configure their equipment or get the store where they bought it to do it for them.

It is pretty simple to mask the WiFi terminal you are using or even your GPS location and not particularly onerous, either. I doubt Google has figured out where my motorcycle mounted 3/4G modem+router combo actually is as it remains the same regardless of my physical location.

I get my selection of SIMS by paying tourists $5 for their old SIMS as they check out of hotels. Guess it might keep NSA occupied, too.

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Re: 'We do not store location data'

You need help.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'We do not store location data'

"The data was stored on the phone and wasn't uploaded to Apple. It was fixed several years ago, shortly after whenever it was discovered."

Data is still being stored on Apple deviced, not sure why, and not sure I like it!

Aug 2013: zdnet:

"Apple's latest mobile operating system, iOS 7, running on an iPhone 4S, logs and records where you've been, when you were there, and makes it available to view on your device, albeit buried deep in the settings. "

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'We do not store location data'

The devices themselves still appear to be storing location data. You can get at it, but its unnecessarily cumbersome to locate. Some of the data is anonymized and uploaded to Apple unless the 'feature' is disabled. Any other owners care to comment?

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Meh, another non-denial

"Perhaps most important, our business does not depend on collecting personal data... Apple's main business is not about collecting information"

Ok, so they don't depend on it and it isn't their main business, I'll even grant that perhaps they aren't interested but they went to great lengths to avoid saying "we don't do it" or even "we only retain credit card and other minimal information that allows us to provide [typical marketing bloviation with an overabundance of superlative words like best, most, magicalest, etc]."

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Credibility problem

Apple, Yahoo, Google, Twtter and al. lied, lie and will lie again.

"Transparency club" my arse.

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Anonymous Coward

"...our business does not depend on collecting personal data..."

Ha ha ha. ROFL

Don't these companies have an ethics officer to stop these kind of "misleading" statements?

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Stop

Re: "...our business does not depend on collecting personal data..."

Take a close look at their SEC filings. You'll see that they make most of their money selling i-devices. This does not require the collection of personal data.

Advertising on the other hand (the main business of Google, Facebook and Twitter) does.

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Re: "...our business does not depend on collecting personal data..."

And yet they collect that juicy data anyway. Why?

Because money. They are a business if you hadn't noticed.

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Re: "...our business does not depend on collecting personal data..."

With few exceptions, most related directly to money, there are no laws prohibiting companies in the US from lying. You can be sued if you lie, but, generally, no regulatory body has control over what you tell your customers.

You can redefine most words specifically in context of a marketing campaign or even a specific piece of marketing collateral. What means something in campaign (x) may not mean the same thing in campaign (y). Dealing with that is actually what most corporate lawyers do, they stay busy writing up the 'official' meaning of terms that will be used in marketing materials.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "...our business does not depend on collecting personal data..."

Because they must have cash flow on their offshore accounts to keep favorable interest rates on their tax free loot.

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"Apple also notes that it has never received an order to release information under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT* Act

...

However, we may never know whether or not they were so served, or if they challenged such an order. Section 215 remains the law of the the land here in the good ol' U.S. of A."

You'll know because they'll stop making the statement that they've never received one.

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Anonymous Coward

This was clever of them.

I wonder if this could be extended by issuing a yearly 'statement' to every customer confirming that they haven't been the subject of any govt. ordered search ...

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Anonymous Coward

APPLE PRIVACY STATEMENT CANNOT BE RELIED UPON

Apple are collecting personal data although the purpose is as of yet unclear. Below is an example of the misinformation and direct lies told to me by Apple staff over the collection of my personal data and its use. I complained because my personal contact data was sucked by the Dictation software. Prior to all of this, I trusted and relied on information told to me by Apple.

I initially tried to discuss privacy issues and the use of predatory software with Apple staff but the junior staff I spoke with agreed that the generalist Apple responses were wholly unsatisfactory in relation to my actual concerns. I was told to send a complaint. I resorted to sending a direct complaint about what I consider to be privacy abuse of not only my data but those of my contacts and being mis-sold software which is not revealed as predatory in relation to privacy and personal data. I was told to send my complaint to an address in Ireland but Apple chose to ignore my initial complaint. I then contacted Apple's telephone helpline and after considerable delay and effort speaking to two senior staff, I had to insist that I had a right to a response to my complaint. I was then told to send a letter to another location. The reasons given for ignoring my complaint were repeated by two Apple senior staff on two separate occasions. It was as follows: 'you can only expect a written response from Apple if you send a written letter to the legal department and if you have legal representation'. I challenged both staff members as I am a law graduate and their statements would conflict with the statutory rights of UK consumers. The same information was repeated on two separate occasions.

I requested but was was never given a copy of Apple's complaints procedure if such a document exists.

Clearly the purchase of the Apple product raises legal and consumer rights based issues but Apple chose to respond to me via technical and customer support staff member, a Data Privacy Officer based in Holyhill. The legal department has not once written to me about the issues even though I was told the matter would be dealt by them and Apple themselves recognise that the issues raise serious legal issues.

This is how seriously Apple cared about my privacy but let's also repeat the misinformation

1 written complaints on data protection and consumer issues must be sent to the legal department - lie

2 written responses to complaints only come from the legal department - lie

3 legal department will only respond if you have legal representation - lie

I also asked Apple to inform me about the nature of the personal information extracted by the operating system and Dictation software so I could make an informed decision as to the information I wanted to be deleted under the Data Protection Act.

Given that I am now also aware that a company such as IBM bans the use of Apple voice assistant software, I believe consumers such as myself should protect their personal contacts and personal data. None of the information I requested has been supplied and the data remains with Apple without my permission.

Apple is not transparent as the facts above show and certainly cannot be trusted by me any longer.

I optimistically look forward to the day when someone creative and honourable like Steve Wozniak or individuals like him give people like me an alternative because presently Apple are just another bad Apple.

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Re: APPLE PRIVACY STATEMENT CANNOT BE RELIED UPON

So you used Dictation in the cloud, and chose not to use the offline version of it. You're then complaining that Apple has stored your voice, or are using it or selling it in some way. I suspect the Data Protection Officer has as much legal knowledge as you do - who cares you are a law graduate that doesn't mean anything with regard to your knowledge of the DPA. I'm not sure why you are complaining you haven't received a letter from legal services. Why does that matter?

If you are so deeply concerned why not refer your complaint to the Information Commissioner?

Having said that, you really don't have anything to do with your time other than complain do you! Don't adopt a common sense approach and discontinue use of Dictation. No, that would be silly wouldn't it.

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This post has been deleted by its author

And the suprise is ?

Having read the "service" agreements of Facebook, Twitter, Linkin, tumblr, and some others, I never Joined any them, what they told me in "Service" agreement was enough to see they could strip mine data and tell u later. I wonder what will become of this, will they stop terror, or make more.

Why is everybody so paranoid, it's not like they can use Internet controlled drones, & your phones location data, to bring u a advertising campaign @ your front door, early in morning, yet .....

When mosad develope's ones that fired Radioactive darts, or USA make ones that say Explode in a suspects ear, the world will safer, and power of data will be revealed, and all will be OK ....

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Coat

US PATRIOT Act

...Someone REALLY wanted their act's initials to spell out "U.S. P.A.T.R.I.O.T."

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How exactly is this helping to fight "terrorism"?

Are the NSA really that interested in my high score on Plants Vs Zombies?

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Gimp

Re: How exactly is this helping to fight "terrorism"?

what makes you think that is their point?

They want the data, all of it, all of the time.

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What is with the headline? Is 'fanbois' a real word.

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Anonymous Coward

RESPONSE TO HENRY BLACKMAN WHO IS WRONG ON EVERY COUNT

Dear Mr Blackman

You are wrong on various counts re my post APPLE PRIVACY STATEMENT CANNOT BE RELIED UPON.

Firstly, I did not use Dictation software in the cloud. Secondly, I do not use cloud although Apple have attempted to force me to use it by not letting me get into the original operating software but I insisted on an alternative.

I was as you say deeply concerned, I referred the matter to the Information Commissioner who kindly informed me of the following fact:

"Unfortunately, Apple are based outside of the UK and are therefore not a UK Data Controller for the purposes of the Data Protection Act 1998. As such they do not come under our jurisdiction. According to Apple’s Privacy Policy it appears that personal information regarding individuals who reside in a member state of the European Economic Area (EEA) is controlled by Apple Distribution International in Cork, Ireland. Personal information collected in the EEA when using iTunes is controlled by iTunes SARL in Luxembourg."

I contacted Luxembourg immediately and have not heard back. So not only do they make money out of UK consumers, they are not even registered in the country to offer basic rights but this does not mean the retail shops are not liable. People can therefore avoid buying directly from Apple and invoke their rights in the UK.

This was not a series of complaints as you allege, it was my first complaint made to Apple and is ongoing as they clearly do not want to help consumers on these issues. It was also the first time I used dictation.

So you are wrong on every count.

I would be grateful if you could make intelligent comments and refrain from making statements and insulting me about what I have or have not done unless you have evidence given you are wrong on every count and as reliable as Apple.

Please also do understand that I will not be bullied should you be an Apple troll who vehemently criticises without considering the evidence or merits of negative impacts on consumers like me.

Uk consumers have a right to receive the products they purchase with reasonable standards of goods and services. Companies do not have a right to abuse basic consumer and human rights.

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USA PATRIOT Act - name

I have always thought there is a large US government marketing department devoted to coming up with *cool* names for operations.

Great names for operations from the US include Urgent Fury, Flaming Dart, Praying Mantis, Rolling Thunder, Steel Tiger, El Dorado Canyon, Nimble Archer, Eagle Claw, Mount Hope III, and Golden Pheasant (which sounds like a brand of Ale).

Us Brits meanwhile have a habit of naming things after places or people, sometimes a few make it, like the Police ‘Operation Scorpion’, but sometimes we tend to go for the obvious, like Operation Z-O, which was the British raid on Zeebrugge and Ostend.

The Russians however win when it comes to ‘most obvious and descriptive mission name’ with their entry “Operation Forcing Georgia To peace”

As for the acronyms, I suspect the same department is given a brief description of what they need the acronym for, which they compare against a list of values or pro-American words, and chose the one they can make fit.

However the USA PATRIOT act naming was a stroke of brilliance, don’t like the USA PATRIOT act? Then you don’t like the USA and are unpatriotic! The clue is in the name! ‘Merica!

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Unhappy

Re: USA PATRIOT Act - name

And USA stands for United Stasi of America.

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Apple - pff

"Unlike many other companies dealing with requests for customer data from government agencies, Apple's main business is not about collecting information."

My response:

"Your main business is overcharging for cheap stuff. And monopolizing the market by not even allowing other companies to sell something as small as a charger. A few years ago Apple sued a lot of companies for selling Apple compatible chargers for their macbooks and products alike. Simply because it was cheaper than their $45-$80 version of the charger" (which obviously failed and needed replaced)

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Anonymous Coward

For all you Fandroids

I never liked Apple wall garden when it comes to app install policy. But compared to data grab that google is doing with their services and how they're using this data, Apple is a child's play. I hope you liked bending over for Google, I'm sure you're aware what kind of fools you've been.

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Anonymous Coward

There is a real analogy to politics in relation to comparisons between Facebook and Google and Apple's ridiculous attempt to consider themselves above other companies. Firstly, note the fact that Apple are the last of these companies to declare giving personal data to Governments (the hanger on company which offers no statement on data given to other bodies or anyone else for that matter).

The Apple statement is trying to cash in on a perception, in this case, a false perception which no longer exists. It occurs because some consumers like me use to believe that Apple does the right thing but circumstances have proved to me Apple does not do the right thing as far as I am concerned where as Facebook and Google are upfront. I know what I am getting. I also know which one I prefer because I can choose not to engage rather than pretend to be on the side of the nice guy who is not really nice at all. So Apple are offering me a worthless fantasy that does not even have fantasy merit.

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Anybody else notice?

In that second table, Chile issued 1 request and was granted 1 request for a grant total of 0% requests granted.

Makes you wonder what spreadsheet/DB software they used to come up with those numbers...

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Anonymous Coward

And the patented holes

Apple probably earn royalties from those proprietary holes that those darn security researchers occasionally find.

What's surprising is that the security services ever have to ask, even if it is only 'a very small percentage' of requests.

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