Although not directly relevant to anyone living outside the United States, the news that Apple will share requests from law enforcement for user data with the users in question (assuming certain conditions have been met) could have major influence on the way user data is handled in the future.
Outlining the new company policy, Apple made a post on its official website last night informing customers of the new regulations. The posting reads:
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.
To give you the cliff notes version, unless a court tells them not, therelease of the information could potentially put other parties at risk or the case revolves around child-related offences, Apple will inform you to let you know that they've been ordered to hand your data over.
Before Apple will compy with any requests, they'll need to be issued with a valid search warrant. Once they've got that, the company says it can pull information from users' text, photo, contacts, video and audio recording and call apps - but only if the device is running iOS 4 or higher. On top of this, if the company is given an legitimate wire tapping order, they'll be able to monitor calls and emails, but not the encrypted data transmitted through FaceTime or iMessage.
While it might all sound a little scary, this is most definitely good news for consumers, as it means that there's a much lower chance of unwarranted (no pun intended) intrusion into user communications.