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Attendees sit in front of an Apple logo at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2013 in San Francisco, California June 10, 2013. (Credit: Reuters)Credit: Reuters

Apple Inc received 4,000 to 5,000 requests from the US government for its PRISM program in the last six months ending 31 May. The data is not limited to National Security Agency-based requests and includes requests aimed at finding missing persons.

"The most common form of request comes from police investigating robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer's disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide," Apple posted on separate page regarding its customer privacy.

The Cupertino-based firm received these requests from US authorities for customer data from 1 December, 2012 till 31 May this year.

"Between 9,000 and 10,000 accounts or devices were specified in those requests, which came from federal, state and local authorities and included both criminal investigations and national security matters."

Apple stressed that it does not collect or maintain customers' personal data through its services. Conversations which take place over iMessage and FaceTime are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one, except the sender and receiver, can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data.

"Similarly, we do not store data related to customers' location, Map searches or Siri requests in any identifiable form," said the company.

The firm broke its silence after other internet companies like Facebook and Microsoft revealed the number of data requests received from the US government in the second half of 2012.

Facebook received about 10,000 requests and revealed information close to 19,000 user accounts, whereas Microsoft had to disclose data for approximately 32,000 consumer accounts - the maximum number of accounts that any company was asked to expose.