The Federal Bureau of Investigation? United States (FBI, for its acronym in English) can access the information that anyone have in instant messaging applications such as Apple’s iMessage and WhatsApp with a court order or subpoena, according to a document that was leaked this week, which for many is a serious violation of privacy.
According to the analysis that was released, which is dated January 7, 2021 and prepared by the FBI’s Science and Technology and Operational Technology divisions, agents have various means of extracting confidential data from users of Apple’s iMessage, Line, Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber, Tencent’s WeChat, Meta’s WhatsApp, and Wickr.
Violation of privacy justified?
While the FBI cannot directly access messages on WhatsApp, it can view your contacts and communication logs, as long as officials deem it appropriate to spy. “That WhatsApp offers all this data is devastating for a journalist communicating with a confidential source, “said Daniel Kahn Gillmor, a technologist with the American Civil Liberties Union.
According to the FBI paper, Apple gives the basic information that is requiredAmong them are 25-day logs of activity in iMessage; with a court order, the US agency has the right to access the actual messages sent and received that are stored in the cloud.
A false promise to users?
Both WhatsApp and iMessage ensure that they are very secure and that the messages that are in them cannot be exposed, but the FBI itself describes the apps as the most permissive. On the other side, Signal only provides the date and time the user signs up and connects, and Wickr provides the account creation date and basic information.
“Privacy is essential for democracy. The ease with which the FBI monitors our data online, extracting the intimate details of our daily lives, threatens us all and paves the way for an authoritarian government “, argued Ryan Shapiro, CEO of Property of the People, organization that originally published the document.
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