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World U.S. Law Enforcement Requested Information on Over 18K Apple Accounts in 2020

18:46  15 june  2021
18:46  15 june  2021 Source:   newsweek.com

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U.S. law enforcement agencies requested information on 18,609 Apple accounts in the first half of 2020, almost seven times higher than what was requested throughout the same time period in 2015, the Associated Press reported.

a close up of Adam Schiff wearing a suit and tie: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) listens at a discussion on 'constitutional clash' and the separation of powers on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for info on the representative in 2018. © Mario Tama/Getty Images Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff (D-CA) listens at a discussion on 'constitutional clash' and the separation of powers on May 30, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Justice Department secretly subpoenaed Apple for info on the representative in 2018.

The number of Apple accounts covered in each legal request has also gone up since the first half of 2015, when each solicitation encompassed three on average. When Apple was hit with a subpoena in the first half of 2018 regarding California representatives Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell, the 2,397 legal requests covered an average of seven accounts each.

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AP reported that 80% to 90% of legal requests to Apple in recent years have resulted in the company delivering customer information to U.S. law enforcement. While the data Apple provides often omits text, email and photo content, the high percentage of request compliance coincides with the stark increase in request volume since 2015.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The Justice Department will tighten its rules around obtaining records from members of Congress, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, amid revelations the department under former President Donald Trump had secretly seized records from Democrats and members of the media.

"Consistent with our commitment to the rule of law," Garland said Monday in a statement, "we must ensure that full weight is accorded to separation-of-powers concerns moving forward."

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Garland's statement came as a Justice Department official said the top national security official, John Demers, planned to leave by the end of next week. Demers, who was sworn in a few weeks after the subpoena for the Democrats' records, is one of the few Trump appointees who has remained in the Biden administration.

The Justice Department is struggling to contain the fallout over revelations that it had confiscated phone data from House Democrats and reporters as part of an aggressive investigation into leaks. The disclosure is also forcing Biden administration officials to wade back into a fight with their predecessors—something they've wished to avoid.

News outlets reported last week that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc. in 2018 for metadata from two Democratic members of the House Intelligence Committee—Schiff and Swalwell—as their committee was investigating Trump's ties to Russia. Schiff, at the time, was the top Democrat on the panel, which was led by Republicans.

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Now the House Intelligence Committee Chair, Schiff said Monday that he had spoken with Garland, who had given his commitment to an independent investigation by the inspector general. Schiff said he had "every confidence" that Garland "will also do the kind of top-to-bottom review of the degree to which the department was politicized during the previous administration and take corrective steps."

The intelligence panel initially said 12 people connected to the committee—including aides, former aides and family members—had been swept up, but more have since been uncovered, according to a person familiar with the matter who also was not authorized to discuss it publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Some people might not know they were targeted because the Apple notification was by email and showed up in the spam filters of some of those who were contacted, the person said.

House Judiciary Committee Chair Representative Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced an investigation into the subpoenas on members of Congress and journalists. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) demanded a copy of the subpoena and other records about the decision to obtain the order.

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Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) lambasted a demand by Democrats that former attorneys general William Barr and Jeff Sessions testify before a committee on the subpoenas, saying his Democratic colleagues had given into the "urge to pick at the scab of politically motivated investigations." He defended Barr, saying the move was a "witch hunt in the making."

"There is no need for a partisan circus here in Congress," he said.

The subpoena, issued February 6, 2018, requested information on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses, Apple said. It also included a nondisclosure order that prohibited the company from notifying any of the people, and it was renewed three times, the company said in a statement.

Apple said that it couldn't challenge the warrants because it had so little information available and that "it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users' accounts."

Although Apple says it contests legal requests that it believes are unfounded, the company challenged or rejected just 7% of the U.S. demands it received during the 2018 period when it received the subpoena for the information about Schiff and Swalwell. Apple was even less combative during the first half of last year, challenging just 4 percent of the U.S. legal requests.

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The department's inspector general has launched a probe into the matter after a request from Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would examine whether the data subpoenaed by the Justice Department and turned over by Apple followed department policy and "whether any such uses, or the investigations, were based upon improper considerations."

In addition, Monaco has been separately tasked with "surfacing problematic matters deserving high level review," Garland said.

Garland emphasized in his statement Monday that "political or other improper considerations must play no role in any investigative or prosecutorial decisions."

Demers has been in charge of the department's national security division since late February 2018, and his division has played a role in each of the leak investigations. He leaves as questions swirl over his potential involvement in the effort.

He had planned for weeks to leave the department by the end of June, a second person familiar with the matter said. The two could not discuss the matter publicly and spoke to AP on the condition of anonymity.

He will be temporarily replaced by Mark Lesko, the acting U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, the official said, until President Joe Biden's official pick, Matthew Olsen, is approved by the Senate.

Olsen is an Uber executive with experience in the Justice Department. He has served as director of the National Counterterrorism Center and as general counsel for the National Security Agency. Demers had remained in place while Olsen awaits a confirmation hearing.

Hong Kong pro-democracy paper unable to pay staff after asset freeze: aide

  Hong Kong pro-democracy paper unable to pay staff after asset freeze: aide Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper warned Monday it is unable to pay staff and is at imminent risk of closure after the government froze the company's assets using a sweeping new national security law. "Our problem at Apple Daily is not that we don't have funds, we have $50 million in the bank," he told CNN. "Our problem is the Secretary of Security and the police will not let us pay our reporters, they will not let us pay our staff, and they will not let us pay our vendors. They have locked up our accounts."Lam Man-chung, executive chief editor of Apple Daily, told AFP that the media group's board was meeting on Monday.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Demers will leave his position by the end of next week, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo © Andrew Harnik/AP Photo Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division John Demers speaks at a news conference at the Department of Justice in Washington. Demers will leave his position by the end of next week, a Justice Department official told The Associated Press. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

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Crackdown brings resignations at embattled Hong Kong pro-democracy paper .
Hong Kong's embattled pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily has been hit by a wave of resignations as authorities push to silence the outspoken tabloid and staff mull whether to leave or stay until the bitter end. On late Monday afternoon, Apple Daily's 1,000-odd staff got the news they had long expected given Hong Kong's hardening political climate: the 26-year-old paper was on its last legs. The board had met that day and announced the paper was almost certainly going to close unless they found a way to unfreeze its assets, with a final decision to be made on Friday.

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