FBI Encrypted Chat Access Time Card Classifies iMessage and WhatsApp Easily, Telegram Difficult

According to the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF) – one of the largest digital rights groups – some secure messaging apps offer more privacy against Big Brother intrusions and general surveillance than others. The organization itself used to note them in a dashboard according to various internal criteria, only a few of which cover all requirements, including those such as “Is the code open to independent review?” “Or” Are past communications secure if your keys are stolen? “
Of the handful of secret messaging platforms that meet most requirements, an even smaller number are what can be called user-friendly, meaning they don’t require overly complex setup and largely work. as your daily chat app of choice. Needless to say, the more popular ones like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber or Skype were at the bottom of the list in terms of security, while those created with privacy concerns like Signal or Telegram got the highest scores. Since then, however, most of the major apps have introduced end-to-end encryption options, so the security ranking order must have changed, right?
Well, not really, because there is another problem – cooperation with law enforcement requests. The Rolling stone and Property of the people have managed to get their hands on an internal ranking of FBI scoreboards, in which popular messaging apps give information more easily. The FBI’s “Lawful Access” document is unclassified, although it is said to be sensitive on the box, but it is a rare glimpse into how law enforcement works in terms of surveillance and investigation. using the most popular means of communication today, the chat application. .
Unsurprisingly, the usual suspects created for privacy and security concerns – Telegram and Signal – are the most difficult to resolve, but surprisingly, Apple’s iMessage is listed as being as cooperative as Facebook’s WhatsApp. We say surprisingly, as Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly pointed out, that the company prides itself on the emphasis on privacy and security that sets it apart from the competition. Recently he even announced a high-profile lawsuit against NSO, the Israeli company that produced the Pegasus spyware used by governments and non-state actors to spy on opposition iPhone messages.

In the face of a court order or search warrant, Apple is forced to provide both user information and iMessage asks what was searched there or who searched for this user that is at least 25 years old. days before the request. This all falls under the umbrella of “metadata” of course, so no message content is given, but the FBI can draw some pretty solid conclusions from who did what activity and when in iMessage alone. If the FBI issues a warrant for the email service’s iCloud backups, however, all bets are void, as Apple is legally obligated to provide access to those as well. Apple also wanted to introduce end-to-end iCloud encryption, so that even the company wouldn’t have access to it, but outcry from law enforcement forced it to freeze those plans.

Moving on to WhatsApp, this is arguably the easiest communication channel for the FBI to get information. Facebook’s lax policies on user data strike again here, as WhatsApp is unique among chat apps by offering a near real-time monitoring option. In response to something the “Lawful Access” document calls the Pen Registry, authorities are receiving WhatsApp communications information every 15 minutes.

On the other side of uptime are apps like Telegram or Signal that have not only been concocted with spy guarantees in mind, but also provide the most limited amounts of metadata. As you can see from the document, both give very little, and Telegram would only cooperate on “confirmed terrorist investigations”.

ACLU’s Wessler said we shouldn’t take law enforcement complaints about chat app encryption that hamper investigations at face value because they are “completely exaggerated and not representative of the amount of information they continue to have access to, even from these encrypted communication platforms. “

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