Senator Warren wades into Apple's Beeper fight with irrelevant antitrust rhetoric

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in iOS

Senator Elizabeth Warren has publicly sided with Beeper in the public fight over iMessage access, using the issue to try and continue to push an anti-Big Tech agenda that has little relevancy in this particular matter.




Apple's decision to close down access to Beeper Mini and prevent the Android app from working on the iMessage network has reached the ears of U.S. lawmakers. In possibly the first noteworthy comment by a senator on the matter, it has been used as an opportunity to attack Apple, albeit with a bit of flawed logic.

Posted to X on Sunday, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) starts her response by confirming a fact. "Green bubble texts are less secure," Warren offers, which is true since green texts are unencrypted text messages, unlike the end-to-end encrypted blue ones.

Green bubble texts are less secure. So why would Apple block a new app allowing Android users to chat with iPhone users on iMessage? Big Tech executives are protecting profits by squashing competitors.

Chatting between different platforms should be easy and secure. https://t.co/fHAS5ckaEA

-- Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren)



"So why would Apple block a new app allowing Android users to chat with iPhone users on iMessage?" the senator asks before offering her own take. "Big Tech executives are protecting profits by squashing competitors."

Warren signs off the tweet by adding "Chatting between different platforms should be easy and secure."

Given the nature of Twitter/X, and the general lack of technical awareness by politicians, it's not clear if she's aware that Apple will be adopting RCS in 2024, and petitioning for an encryption standard.

Not quite correct



The post is largely an opportunity for Warren to try and attack Apple over ongoing efforts to increase regulation of so-called big-tech companies. It also ignores the actual issue of the situation itself.

Beeper Mini, the Android app, allowed Android users to communicate with iPhone users over Apple's iMessage network. To accomplish this, the app had to pretend to be an Apple device and provide fake credentials to Apple's servers, allowing messages to be passed to and from the Android device.

After cutting off Beeper Mini's access to its servers, Apple confirmed it had taken steps to "protect our users" by blocking techniques that "exploit fake credentials" to access iMessage. Doing so keeps the network secure, with Apple claiming the techniques "posed significant risks to user security and privacy."

While Beeper claimed its app was secure, using end-to-end encryption between participants just as iMessage normally does, the claim can only go so far. Apple cannot easily know that the app is working securely beyond the receiving of messages on Android hardware, something it can do on iOS by tightly controlling the main app and the entire ecosystem.

Since Apple cannot possibly ensure the security of iMessage via an Android app that's faking credentials to pretend to be an iPhone, it has worked to block off the app from the network.

Beeper founder Eric Migicovsky responded on Friday to Apple's block, asking that if Apple cared about privacy and security of iPhone users, asking "why would they stop a service that enables their own users to now send encrypted messages to Android users, rather than using unsecure SMS?" Again, Migicovsky's question can be answered for exactly the same reason: Apple cannot guarantee security of communications once it's off its ecosystem.

Warren can conceivably be credited for knowing about green messages being less secure than blue ones. The insistence of "secure" chats between different platforms is also a plus for her message.

However, the complaint about Apple blocking an app over iMessage misses why Apple blocked the access in the first place. Apple says it's for security, but Warren believes it's a profit protection measure.

Continuing the wrong fight



Warren's message is less a chance to urge Apple to change its messaging network, and more of an attempt to use the dispute to score political points against Apple.

The senator has repeatedly attacked Apple and other so-called Big Tech companies, urging for more regulation to curb the influence of the multinationals. This has included urging Congress to create new laws to manage the largest tech companies, as well as attempts to introduce rules to ban merger deals valued at over $5 billion, to try and prevent anticompetitive activity.

Senator Warren is also known to have called for companies including Apple to be broken up into smaller versions, even if doing so impacts the security of the company's own platform.

Read on AppleInsider

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 31
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    darkvader9secondkox2sflagelbeowulfschmidtwilliamlondonSpitbath
  • Reply 2 of 31
    She's a boomer. Those types don't do well with technology. Her and her staff need to educate themselves before posting the nonsense.
    9secondkox2zeus423JaiOh81iOS_Guy80williamlondonSpitbathstompywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 31
    lam92103 said:
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    Wrong.




    9secondkox2zeus423JaiOh81williamlondonSpitbathigorskystompywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 4 of 31
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,381member
    darkvader said:
    lam92103 said:
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    Of course.  But of course the irrational fanbois will say you're wrong.

    Her argument is fucking nonsense. If you had even the faintest idea about the actual subject matter, you would easily acknowledge that this is, in fact, a security issue. 

     And of course, the first step to proving your rationality is claiming that anyone who disagrees is an "irrational fanboi", right?

     Fucking pathetic. 


    9secondkox2MacProzeus423radarthekatthtForumPostiOS_Guy80mdwgraphicsguywilliamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 31
    Warren has some good positions on some things, but she seems to think that you can’t become a big player without abusive business practices. 

    Apple may not be perfect but they’re better than everyone else in big tech. 

    iMessage has a ton of security stuff going on on the back end that Warren doesn’t understand. And that’s a shame senators should want to learn about complicated things like security, but she clearly doesn’t. 
    9secondkox2MacProradarthekatsflagelgraphicsguySpitbathigorskystompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 31
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 3,039member
    Sigh. Another political thread. I predict closure in 3...2...1...
    9secondkox2williamlondonSpitbathwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 31
    rob53rob53 Posts: 3,233member
    Every politician has an agenda. I just wish they would spend more time supporting the middle class and people without much money at all instead of sucking up to corporations. Warren can say she's against multinational corporations but she also is funded by them. Check out https://www.opensecrets.org/2020-presidential-race/elizabeth-warren/contributors?id=N00033492 
    zeus423ForumPostigorskywatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 31
    Wait… Elizabeth Warren? 

    So we automatically know it’s either:

    1) a lie. 

    Or

    2) nonsense. 

    In this case, it’s actually both. Good job, Liz. 
    edited December 2023 zeus423radarthekatKierkegaardenSpitbathigorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 31
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,215member
    lam92103 said:
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    She would be, if she was aware of steps already taken by Apple to resolve this. And you’d know this if you’d read the article.

    Take a look again, paying particular attention to the paragraph about how Apple has ZERO CONTROL of messaging systems from other sources. Then move on to the paragraph about RCS adoption, which will provide the interoperability Sen. Warren seeks, and that Apple is working with RCS to provide encryption, which RCS does not presently have. As a reminder, Google/Android has adopted RCS and worked with the group in charge of it for years, and never once tried to add a message encryption standard to it.

    While Apple will continue to keep messages from outside its own system as green, Apple is working to make an encrypted version of RCS the standard across all mainstream messaging providers to **replace SMS**. Again, it’s right there in the article if you’d bother to read it. So “green bubbles” won’t mean “insecure” for much longer.
    edited December 2023 radarthekatForumPostigorskystompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 31
    XedXed Posts: 2,460member
    lam92103 said:
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    So now software security isn't a technical matter?
    MacProzeus423radarthekatForumPostigorskystompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 31
    EW: "Oh look! Another opportunity to try and keep myself relevant."
    igorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 31
    What comes out of her mouth other than irrelevant rhetoric?  She is beyond ignorant.
    igorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 31
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,307member
    A political post where comments are allowed?  Now this is quite nice!  Bravo, AppleInsider.  It actually makes me happy that "Eightzero" isn't happy.

    Let freedom reign!

    :-)
    edited December 2023 Spitbathzeus423watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 31
    She is probably speaking to the anti-business far left. Politicians are often idiots, but no way she wouldn’t see how problematic it is to open iMessage to other parties without opening a can of worms. RCS is Apple’s answer to modernizing interoperable communication.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 31
    She's a boomer. Those types don't do well with technology. Her and her staff need to educate themselves before posting the nonsense.
    I am not so sure this is correct. It was Boomers/Xers that built all the technology on top of which we now work and live. Internet, Web browsers, Office apps, music codecs, etc? Including, by the way, Steve Jobs.
    And even Boomers that merely used computers, they started using computers in the 1980's, where the had to manage storage space, switch discs mid-workflow, install "drivers" every time they bought a peripheral, work their way through multi-level menus, live with 8-character file names, and basically code a web page from scratch. And no "undo" buttons. Millennials on the other hand have a nervous breakdown when a process requires more than three clicks.
    More accurate is "She's a politician. Those types don't do well with technology".
    edited December 2023 beowulfschmidtmdwdewmezeus423watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 31
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,087member
    chasm said:
    lam92103 said:
    Shes right you know. All this has just proven that there are no technological reasons to stop this. Only financial ones
    ...Apple is working with RCS to provide encryption, which RCS does not presently have. As a reminder, Google/Android has adopted RCS and worked with the group in charge of it for years, and never once tried to add a message encryption standard to it.
    Where do you come up with these proclamations, from your vivid imagination? You very obviously don't look to see if it's true before making them. Google announced message encryption coming to RCS in 2019.

    When Google bought Jibe in 2016 and joined the GSMA they started prodding ATT, Verizon, etc to come together on features and standards, with encryption being one of those features. With Google needing carrier support for Android they tried to work WITH the carrier-led GSMA and not rocking the boat too much, and the carriers were seemingly welcoming Google's membership, even adding Google RCS services to the standard. 
    https://www.gsma.com/newsroom/press-release/global-operators-google-and-the-gsma-align-behind-adoption-of-rcs/

    Well so much for that.

    Just three years later it was obvious not rocking the boat wasn't going to work to move things along. The lack of action from carriers, including resisting encryption for selfish monetary reasons, pushed Google into taking it into their own hands, expanding the footprint with user-friendly features, and adding E2EE themselves since the carriers would not.  IMO, left to themselves, ATT, et.al. never would have done so.

    If GSMA eventually makes E2EE mandatory, it will be largely because of Google. I'm not convinced Apple is interested in pushing for it, not bothering to join the standards working group AFAICT, so how are they working with them to add encryption? They're only getting on the boat, not joining the bridge crew based on appearances. Their pinky promise to adopt RCS "next year" was done last minute to avoid the EU from regulating iMessage IMO, and it might succeed, but E2EE RCS won't work in their favor from a marketing aspect.

    Apple will not admit to any other messaging service having the security and privacy of iMessage, nor should anyone expect them to. Business is business, and you can be certain Google is acting in their self-interests too, even if Google Messages can't be directly monetized any more than iMessage can. Both are just parts of a bigger profit-making package.

    edited December 2023
  • Reply 17 of 31
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,813administrator
    jdw said:
    A political post where comments are allowed?  Now this is quite nice!  Bravo, AppleInsider.  It actually makes me happy that "Eightzero" isn't happy.

    Let freedom reign!

    :-)
    We'll see how it goes. So far, so good.
    dewmewilliamlondonSpitbathzeus423watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 31

    The iMessage network is not "open" like much of the internet, so this was unauthorized access.

    Bleeper was planning to share the code in the open-source space so it could be reviewed. Imagine how many nefarious folks could take that and abuse it by building apps that could steal info, and send spam!

    While a shame, Apple was fully right to block access. 

    (RCS is not replacing SMS entirely. SMS remains the fallback option when a data connection is not available.)
    edited December 2023 igorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 31
    jimh2jimh2 Posts: 576member
    Beeper is using Apple assets to which they have no rights and that is all they need to stop it. They are continuing to pick the lock to gain entry. They are wasting their lives away on something that is of zero value with a very number of Android users who are willing to pay any amount for it. I’ve already seen people questioning the pittance of a monthly fee, which is $2 (I think). The luster for those paying will disappear when it keeps breaking as Apple keeps adding locks to the door. 

     The security justification by Beeper is nonsense as they are masquerading as Apple products in order to get it to work. No different than masquerading as a policemen to make people who do not know feel safer.  
    igorskywatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 31
    She's a boomer. Those types don't do well with technology. Her and her staff need to educate themselves before posting the nonsense.

    Boomer here; I'll be 63 next year.

    I've been programming, repairing, and/or building computers and networks since the late 70s, both professionally and as a hobbyist.  Mainframes, minis, PCs, phones, Raspberry Pi, and a couple more.

    No age group has a lock on understanding technology, just like no age group has a lock on understanding how to build a bridge or dig a ditch.
    muthuk_vanalingamgatorguysflageldewmedanoxsunman42zeus423stompywatto_cobra
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