Apple VP Lisa Jackson bragged to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign about giving customer data to governments “24/7” in a damning email released by WikiLeaks, the Express is reporting.
The leaked email is dated December 20, 2015, and was sent from Jackson to Clinton campaign manager John Podesta. In the email, Jackson, who is on the Clinton Foundation board of directors and has publicly endorsed Clinton, tells Podesta that the communications giant “works closely” with law enforcement authorities that request customer data.
“Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process. We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day.”
However, Jackson also stressed that the company only provided the data when it was legally required to do so, such as in response to a warrant or a court order or other legal action.
Jackson’s apparent comfort with sharing customer data with governments stands in contrast to Apple’s public image of being opposed to government snooping and publicly supporting encryption. In fact, the email was sent at the same time the company was publicly opposing the U.K. Investigatory Powers Bill. That bill would have required Apple to maintain encryption keys so that the U.K. government could decrypt information gleaned from online messaging apps and other platforms.
Jackson told the Clinton campaign that encryption is just a small part of the picture.
“Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple’s ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data.”
The day before Jackson sent the email, Clinton had given a speech on technology and encryption.
“I wanted to reach out to say thanks for the principled and nuanced stance the secretary took last night on encryption and the tech sector. Leadership at Apple certainly noticed and I am sure that is true though out [Silicon] Valley.”
Jackson also referenced the tech giant’s tax issues, particularly in the U.K., telling Podesta that Apple CEO Tim Cook would later be appearing on 60 Minutes to discuss the issue. She promised that Cook would “react strongly” to questions about the ongoing tax probes.
9to5Mac writer Chance Miller, while admitting that the email could appear damning, cautions against reading too much into the revelations. He notes that there are over a billion Apple devices in use throughout the world, so thousands of instances of handing over customer data to governments is small potatoes and nothing new, either.
Further, Chance points out that Apple still remains committed to maintaining customer privacy and does not want to be forced to comply when it comes to creating a so-called backdoor – that is, some means of accessing encrypted data, such as disabling an iPhone’s auto-erase function or allowing users unlimited attempts at entering a passcode to unlock the phone.
In fact, Apple was asked to do that very thing in the case of the San Bernadino shooter’s phone, which they declined, according to a February 9to5Mac report. The government maintained that Apple not only could, but was legally required to unlock and decrypt the shooter’s phone. Apple refused and further stated that they couldn’t even if they wanted.
Nevertheless, the government was able to break into the shooter’s phone without Apple’s help, according to a May Washington Post report.
Are you alarmed that Apple VP Lisa Jackson bragged to Hillary Clinton about sharing customer data with the government?
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