Apple provides user metadata to UK police in terror investigations

Tim Cook says the company helps security services to help with their investigations

Apple chief executive, Tim Cook has said the company has assisted the UK police with their investigations into terrorists by providing them with user metadata.

"I would hope that the UK authorities would say we've been co-operating well," said Cook in an interview with Bloomberg. "We've been co-operating with the UK Government not only in law enforcement matters but in some of the attacks too."

While he did not go into specifics, Cook said that the information passed on was "valuable" to the police. 

"In cases where we have information and they've gone through the lawful process we don't just pass it over, but we do it very, very promptly," he said.

Encryption

Information generated and stored on an iPhone is encrypted, meaning Apple cannot access items such as iMessages or iCloud backups, however, Cook explained metadata is accessible. 

"Encryption doesn't mean there's no information," said Cook. "Because metadata probably exists and metadata, if you're putting together a profile, is very important." 

This information includes who an iPhone user has called and when. 

"The reality is that cyber attacks on people and governments, these affect your safety and security," he added.

Apple fought a high-profile case against the FBI last year in relation to the iPhone of the San Bernardino gunman. The FBI had requested that Apple create a loophole to allow them access information stored on the phone. Apple resisted, citing user privacy and security as a top priority. The FBI managed to access the phone after an unknown source came forward with a solution. 

The issue of encryption has been mentioned by political figures in recent weeks, including Prime Minister Theresa May. May accused technology companies of providing terrorists with a "safe space".

Tech giants Facebook, Google and Twitter each defended their policies and stated they are committed to the safety of their users.