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Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Donald Trump in March 2019

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks with President Donald Trump during a meeting at the White House in March 2019.


Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Trump administration officials subpoenaed Apple for data from at least a dozen people connected to the House Intelligence Committee in an attempt to root out the source of leaks of classified information, The New York Times reported this week. The targets included at least two Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, aides and family members — one of whom was a minor.

Prosecutors, who seized the records in 2017 and early 2018, were searching for the source of media leaks about contacts between Trump associates and Russia, the Times reported. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, then the panel’s top Democrat, was one of the members of Congress targeted, sources told the newspaper.

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Apple provided metadata and account information, but not photos, emails or other content, a person familiar with the inquiry told the Times. Ultimately, the data subpoenaed didn’t tie the committee to the leaks, the newspaper reported.

The report follows recent revelations that former President Donald Trump’s administration had secretly obtained phone and email records from a number of journalists, including reporters for CNN and the Washington Post. President Joe Biden said last month he had directed the Justice Department to end the practice of seizing phone or email records of reporters.

As it did with the news organizations, the Justice Department obtained a gag order that prevented Apple from disclosing the subpoenas, a source told the Times. Lawmakers only learned of the probe last month from Apple, after the gag order had expired, the newspaper reported.

Schiff called the investigation “baseless” and said it highlighted how Trump used the system to target political enemies.

“This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice,” Schiff said in a tweet Thursday evening.

Trump repeatedly demanded the DOJ go after his political enemies.

It’s clear his demands didn’t fall on deaf ears.

 

This baseless investigation, while now closed, is yet another example of Trump’s corrupt weaponization of justice.

And how much he imperiled our democracy.

— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 11, 2021

Rep. Eric Swalwell of California, another prominent Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told CNN on Thursday evening he had been notified that his data was seized as part of the probe. Representatives for Swalwell, a longtime critic of Trump, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Apple typically receives thousands of requests each year for individual data from governments and private parties in litigation around the world. In April, the company reported that requests it received in 2020 had targeted 171,368 devices, a drop of 12% from the same time in 2019. Apple provided the information requested 80% of the time.

Representatives for Apple and the Justice Department didn’t respond to a request for comment. On Friday, however, Apple said it didn’t know that the DOJ’s subpoena targeted Democrats‘ data. The subpoena sought data belonging to a seemingly random collection of email addresses and phone numbers and “provided no information on the nature of the investigation,” a company spokesman told CNBC in a statement. “It would have been virtually impossible for Apple to understand the intent of the desired information without digging through users’ accounts.”

CNBC also reported Friday that Microsoft received a similar DOJ subpoena. “In this case, we were prevented from notifying the customer for more than two years because of a gag order,” the company told the news outlet in a statement. “As soon as the gag order expired, we notified the customer who told us they were a congressional staffer. We then provided a briefing to the representative’s staff following that notice. We will continue to aggressively seek reform that imposes reasonable limits on government secrecy in cases like this.” 

Also on Friday, the Justice Department’s independent inspector general opened an investigation into the subpoena for the data, The New York Times reported.

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Digital payments company Square is now offering checking and savings accounts for small-business customers. On Tuesday, the company unveiled Square Banking, a set of tools for collecting payments, managing banking and viewing cash flow all at once.

“When you take payments and bank through Square, everything is connected. Watch your sales flow directly into Square banking, so accessing and moving your money is fast, easy — and can even be automated,” Square said in a press release.

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Square Banking is the latest expansion by the payments company run by Jack Dorsey, who’s also CEO of Twitter. Last week, Dorsey said Square will create a new business focused on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, to help developers design decentralized financial products.

The new checking and savings accounts join the company’s lending option, now called Square Loans, as well as the Square debit card, which the company launched in 2019 for business customers. 

The new accounts will let businesses access money they bring in through Square payments, without first having to transfer it to a separate bank account. Square said the new banking accounts don’t have a minimum balance and that there aren’t monthly account fees. 

Square’s checking accounts will be provided by Sutton Bank, which also issues the Square debit card. Square said funds are FDIC-insured.

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With employees expected to start returning to the office in September, Apple is reportedly clamping down even future on remote work. Some Apple employees are saying it’s even harder to get remote work approved now that the company is moving forward with its hybrid plan, according to a report Thursday from The Verge

Apple’s corporate culture is well known throughout Silicon Valley as secretive, often requiring employees to be on site. However, there were some exceptions to this and some teams were more lenient about remote work, according to The Verge. But now, some of these previous exceptions are reportedly being denied. 

In June, Apple told employees it expects them to be in the office at least three days a week. Employees reportedly pushed back on this plan, asking CEO Tim Cook for more flexibility. Apple reportedly dismissed the request and told employees that “in-person collaboration is essential to our culture and our future.”

Some Apple employees have said they plan to quit due to the hybrid work policy, reported The Verge, citing messages in a company Slack channel. 

Apple isn’t the only tech company grappling with plans to return to the office following the COVID-19 pandemic. Google, which similarly is asking most employees to be in office three days a week, has frustrated employees with what they say are inflexible and opaque remote work policies. Last month, Facebook extended remote work options to all of its employee, and Twitter has said all employees will have the option to work from home permanently. 

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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