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Apple is building an online portal for police to make data requests

The tech giant is also upgrading its program that trains law enforcement in digital forensics.

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Apple is working on new tools for law enforcement officials.

Getty Images

Apple is creating a dedicated team to help train law enforcement officials around the world in digital forensics, the company said Tuesday in a letter to Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse

The company is also working on an online portal, set to be operational by the end of 2018, where law enforcement officials can submit and track requests for data and obtain responses from Apple. When the portal goes live, police and law enforcement agents will be able to apply for "authentication credentials," Apple said in the letter.

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The letter, seen by CNET, addresses recommendations made in a report issued earlier this year by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) regarding cybersecurity and the "digital evidence needs" of law enforcement agencies.

Apple said in the letter that it's eager to adopt the report's recommendations, including making upgrades to its law enforcement training program. This includes developing an online training module for police that mirrors Apple's current in-person training, according to the letter and to details on the company's website.

"This will assist Apple in training a larger number of law enforcement agencies and officers globally, and ensure that our company's information and guidance can be updated to reflect the rapidly changing data landscape," the site says. 

Apple also reiterated in the letter that it's "committed to protecting the security and privacy of our users" and that company initiatives and "the work we do to assist investigations uphold this fundamental commitment."

Along with tech companies like Google and Microsoft, Apple regularly publishes transparency reports detailing how often it gets requests for data from governments as well as private parties. In the first half of 2017, for example, Apple received between 13,250 and 13,499 national security requests from the US law enforcement. 

First published Sept. 6 at 10:08 a.m. PT.
Update Sept. 7 at 4:34 a.m. PT: Added background from Apple's letter.

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