Apple has published a new set of guidelines that detail how government entities and law enforcement agencies can request user data, and what information the company can and cannot retrieve upon receipt of a search warrant or legal notice. The guidelines state that Apple will start notifying its customers when it receives law enforcement data requests.
Apple will notify its customers when their personal information is being sought in response to legal process except where providing notice is prohibited by the legal process itself, by a court order Apple receives (e.g., an order under 18 U.S.C. §2705(b)), or by applicable law or where Apple, in its sole discretion, believes that providing notice could create a risk of injury or death to an identifiable individual or group of individuals or in situations where the case relates to child endangerment.
With regards to data extraction, Apple mentions that it can retrieve information from passcode-locked devices, but that data gathering is limited to its native apps such as SMS, photos, videos, contacts, audio recording, and call history. Apple stated that it would not be able to provide access to email, calendar entries or third-party app data, and that the extraction process can be performed on devices "in good working order" at its headquarters. However, when served with a federal wiretap order, Apple will be able to intercept a users' email communications, but not iMessage or FaceTime communications, as they are encrypted.
Apple's changes are indicative of a broader change that is being implemented across major technology giants like Google, Microsoft and Facebook in the way they disclose information to government agencies.
The primary difference here is that Apple, unlike Google and Facebook, doesn't depend on collecting vast amounts of user data to sell advertising against. Apple aggressively tries to keep user data off their servers, even when it means they can't provide otherwise useful services like Google Now's "prescience".
Does that make a difference to you? Does the nature of Apple's business and they way they treat data make you any more likely to trust them and their services?