Apple Now Requires Court Orders for Push Data

Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska Senior Editor
Penka Hristovska Penka Hristovska Senior Editor

Apple has quietly updated its guidelines to add that law enforcement will now need consent from a judge to obtain push notification data from the company. The tech giant’s Legal Process Guidelines document now states that “a subpoena or greater legal process” is needed to gain access to relevant records.

“When users allow an application they have installed to receive push notifications, an Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) token is generated and registered to that developer and device,” Apple said in the document. “Some apps may have multiple APNs tokens for one account on one device to differentiate between messages and multi-media. The Apple ID associated with a registered APNs token and associated records may be obtained with an order under 18 U.S.C. §2703(d) or a search warrant.”

Push notifications are audible alerts that apps use to notify smartphone users of all kinds of updates, including incoming messages and breaking news. All of these notifications travel over Apple and Google’s servers.

The update comes after Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, in an open letter for the Department of Justice, revealed that foreign governments have been asking Google and Apple to share push notifications records. In the letter, the Democrat senator highlighted concerns that “Apple and Google are in a unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps.”

Apple later confirmed the claims in a statement and said the company wasn’t able to disclose this due to restrictions by the US government.

Apple is committed to transparency and we have long been a supporter of efforts to ensure that providers can disclose as much information as possible to their users. In this case, the federal government prohibited us from sharing any information and now that this method has become public we are updating our transparency reporting to detail these kinds of requests,” Apple’s statement said.

The company said it’ll start including all of this information in its transparency report.

About the Author
Penka Hristovska
Penka Hristovska
Senior Editor

About the Author

Penka Hristovska is an editor at SafetyDetectives. She was an editor at several review sites that covered all things technology — including VPNs and password managers — and had previously written on various topics, from online security and gaming to computer hardware. She’s highly interested in the latest developments in the cybersecurity space and enjoys learning about new trends in the tech sector. When she’s not in “research mode,” she’s probably re-watching Lord of The Rings or playing DOTA 2 with her friends.

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