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August 2, 2021
The Department of Justice sent a broad request in February 2018 to Apple as part of its investigation that collected data on members of Congress, staffers and their families.
The department demanded metadata on 73 phone numbers and 36 email addresses from Apple, the company said Friday evening. Apple received the subpoena from the Justice Department on Feb. 6, 2018, but it contained no information about who the investigation was targeting or why, the company said. Apple also said determining who the targeted accounts belonged to would have required extensive research.
A person familiar with the request said the subpoena requested information on the targeted accounts beginning with the inception of the accounts through the day of the subpoena. Apple said it limited the information it provided to metadata and account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures. While Apple says it would have normally informed customers, a nondisclosure order prevented it from doing so in this case, the company said. The nondisclosure order was extended three times, each time for a year, Apple said. When it was not extended for a fourth time, Apple said it informed the affected customers on May 5, 2021.
“In this case, the subpoena, which was issued by a federal grand jury and included a nondisclosure order signed by a federal magistrate judge, provided no information on the nature of the investigation and it would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts,” Apple said in the statement. “Consistent with the request, Apple limited the information it provided to account subscriber information and did not provide any content such as emails or pictures.”
The subpoena was signed by prosecutor Jocelyn Valentine and authorized by Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in DC federal court, the source familiar with the request said. The company also says it believes similar requests were sent to other technology companies and internet service providers.
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