An email from the recent WikiLeaks dump indicates that Apple might have been sharing user data with governments after all. “Please know that Apple will continue its work with law enforcement,” reads an email from Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, who reports directly to CEO Tim Cook.
In the email the Apple executive writes “we work closely with authorities to comply with legal requests for data that have helped solve complex crimes. 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.” The email was addressed to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
But the context is missing, and could show a larger attempt to soften Hillary Clinton’s position on encryption. While Jackson writes that at Apple, “We share law enforcement’s concerns about the threat to citizens,” she later writes “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 email also compliments Clinton for her “principled and nuanced stance” on encryption in a December debate against Bernie Sanders. Clinton had said “maybe the backdoor is the wrong door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. But I also understand, when a law enforcement official charged with the responsibility of preventing attack…well, if we can’t know what someone is planning, we are going to have to rely on the neighbor… I just think there’s got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out.”