The Patriot Act and subsequent updates and enhancements made it illegal to share that a company had been asked to reveal information about one of its clients. These requests are made from a security agency like the NSA and are submitted to the FISA court, at which only the government is allowed to present and its proceedings are top secret. The warrant contains a provision that advises that it is illegal to even admit a company has received such a warrant, much less tell the subject entailed. Recently the tech industry won the right to leak that they had received warrants but must wait six months to do so and only announce how many they have received.
In response to this secrecy many companies, including Apple, added a clause to their regular privacy statement, Quarterly SEC filing, and other official documents which indicate they have NOT received a warrant. Quite tricksy when you think about it. Once they remove that clause from their documents, they are not openly stating they have received a warrant but they are no longer saying that they haven’t. This canary has now since stopped chirping for the tech company.
In November of 2013, Apple added a clause to its regular releases: “Apple has never received an order under Section 215 of the USA Patriot Act. We would expect to challenge such an order if served on us.” Recently it’s been discovered that this portion is now missing which suggests Apple has been served with the ultra-secret warrant for information, files, and account contents of one of its clients. We may not know for another six months one way or another if they indeed received a warrant to disclose information on a client but a little birdie told us to keep an eye on what plays out.