Leaked document explains how Apple tracks communication via, shares information with law enforcement

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Date: Thursday, September 29th, 2016, 05:01
Category: iOS, iPhone, Legal, News, privacy, security


In the complicated balancing act between privacy and security, it looks like Apple has been handing the phone number you’ve called over to the police.

Following this year’s FBI investigation and Apple’s vows of privacy protection, it appears that Apple in fact keeps a log of everyone you try to contact using iMessage, according to a leaked document found by The Intercept. These logs contain personal contact information, including phone numbers, and are stored in Apple’s servers for 30 days before being deleted. Furthermore, Apple has shared these server logs with police after being compelled by a court order.

While Apple has touted iMessage’s end-to-end encryption, meaning the contents of sent messages cannot be accessed outside of its original iOS device, the company is apparently storing both contact information and metadata every time the device sends a message.

Apple acknowledged sharing certain data from its server logs with police and sent the following statement along:

“In some cases, we are able to provide data from server logs that are generated from customers accessing certain apps on their devices. We work closely with law enforcement to help them understand what we can provide and make clear these query logs don’t contain the contents of conversations or prove that any communication actually took place.”

According to the logs, every time you send a message, the Messages app pings the Apple servers to check if the recipient is a fellow iMessage user. Apple keeps a log of all these queries, including the phone numbers or contact information of the parties involved, date, time, IP address and email address, if applicable.

Apple stores this information on its servers for 30 days, even if the recipient turned out not to be using iMessage.

Phone companies also comply with similar court orders all the time, sharing metadata and call logs, so this new information simply means the iPhone is on par with other smartphones. However, Apple has a reputation as a staunch guardian of users’ privacy, which opens up yet another can of worms.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via Macworld and The Intercept

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