FBI document showcases how secure messaging apps stack up

Posted:
in General Discussion
A new FBI document detailing its legal access to secure messaging apps indicates that the agency has a "limited" ability to access the content of messages sent via Apple's iMessage.

Apple's iMessage app on an iPhone.
Apple's iMessage app on an iPhone.


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 secure messaging app content and metadata."

For example, the FBI has "limited" access to the content of iMessages. That isn't actually a new revelation, since it's long been known that Apple will provide law enforcement access to a suspect's iMessages -- if they are backed up to iCloud.

That does differ from more secure messaging platforms. According to the document, the FBI can't access message content from Telegram, WeChat, or Wickr.

In addition to iMessage, the FBI says it can gain "limited" access to WhatsApp and Line messages.

The FBI says that for Signal -- long considered one of the most secure end-to-end encrypted messaging apps -- it can't access much information at all. The only information Signal keeps is the time and date that a user registered for the service, and the last date of a user using it.

Although unclassified, the document says it's "for official use only" and is designated as "law enforcement sensitive."

The inability for law enforcement to access encrypted data on iPhones and other devices is a centerpiece in the arguments for backdoors. Although Apple does cooperate with law enforcement in criminal cases where assistance is requested, the company has long resisted attempts to undermine its general encryption.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    Pretty sure China has all access to WeChat. By Chinese law, any company must cooperate with CCP.  I think that might also applies to iMessage in China too.  
    williamlondonpatchythepiratecornchipdarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 7
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,950member
    Telegram began life in Russia. No matter what people say, I'd never trust it.

    Signal it is.
    lam92103iqatedojahbladeviclauyycqwerty52cornchipdarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 7
    cpsro said:
    Telegram began life in Russia. No matter what people say, I'd never trust it.

    Signal it is.
    From what I understand, Telegram is worse in terms of security than even Whatsapp.

    Been using Signal for over a year. Great app

    edited November 2021 williamlondonviclauyycqwerty52patchythepiratedarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 7
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,768member
    Funny the FBI feels they have legal rights to my private conversations with people. If they have legal rights I should have legal rights to access their conversations since I’m a taxpayer. 

    Yea, not in my lifetime. 
    mrstepdarkvaderwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 7
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,497member
    rob53 said:
    Funny the FBI feels they have legal rights to my private conversations with people. If they have legal rights I should have legal rights to access their conversations since I’m a taxpayer. 

    Yea, not in my lifetime. 
    It's called a search warrant, and yes, it means they have the legal right to access what's included in the warrant. The constitution guarantees certain rights but none of those rights are absolute. That's how every society works.
    mike1applguywilliamlondoncommand_fmaltz
  • Reply 6 of 7
    MplsP said:
    rob53 said:
    Funny the FBI feels they have legal rights to my private conversations with people. If they have legal rights I should have legal rights to access their conversations since I’m a taxpayer. 

    Yea, not in my lifetime. 
    It's called a search warrant, and yes, it means they have the legal right to access what's included in the warrant. The constitution guarantees certain rights but none of those rights are absolute. That's how every society works.
    Very true - I think the concern is their ability to use a back door without observing due process.  The FBI has a checkered past in this regard as does Law Enforcement in general.  Additionally there is the question of how secure any “general access” back door could ever be.  Too many hackers are far too talented for such a thing to remain secure.
    command_fwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 7
    applguyapplguy Posts: 203member
    vztrv1 said:
    MplsP said:
    rob53 said:
    Funny the FBI feels they have legal rights to my private conversations with people. If they have legal rights I should have legal rights to access their conversations since I’m a taxpayer. 

    Yea, not in my lifetime. 
    It's called a search warrant, and yes, it means they have the legal right to access what's included in the warrant. The constitution guarantees certain rights but none of those rights are absolute. That's how every society works.
    Very true - I think the concern is their ability to use a back door without observing due process.  The FBI has a checkered past in this regard as does Law Enforcement in general.  Additionally there is the question of how secure any “general access” back door could ever be.  Too many hackers are far too talented for such a thing to remain secure.
    This isn’t about surveillance using back door access. This is about access to content by asking (search warrant) to unlock the front door to see what is inside. 

    The FOIA only confirms what many thought about government access to chat app content.
    command_fwatto_cobra
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