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A new FBI document detailing her legal access to secure messaging apps indicates that the agency has “limited” access to the content of messages sent via Apple’s iMessage.
The document, which appears to have been obtained by a group called Property of the People through a FOIA request, details the FBI’s ability to “legally access the content and metadata of secure messaging applications.”
For example, the FBI has “limited” access to iMessages content. This isn’t really a new discovery, as it’s long been known that Apple will give police access to the suspect’s iMessages – if they’re backed up on iCloud.
This is different from more secure messaging platforms. According to the document, the FBI cannot access the content of messages from Telegram, WeChat or Wicker.
With iMessage, the FBI says it can get “restricted” access to WhatsApp and Line messages.
The FBI says Signal – long considered one of the most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging apps – can’t access much information at all. The only information that Signal keeps is the time and date when the user registered for the service, and the last date when the user used it.
Although not entrusted, the document says it is “for official use only” and labeled as “sensitive to law enforcement.”
The inability of law enforcement to access encrypted data on iPhones and other devices is a central part of the backdoor argument. Although Apple cooperates with the police in criminal cases in which help is sought, the company has long resisted attempts to undermine its general encryption.
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