In this day and age, imagining a day without the notifications from your messaging apps might seem quite odd. And it is a known fact that already a lot of fuss is made over the security and privacy of these apps. Well, if you need help with it, ask Zuckerberg and he will tell you how hard it can get. Although most of the messaging apps try to ensure the user with their security and privacy policies, there are still loopholes through which information can be legally transferred, as ironic as that sounds. In fact, a newly leaked document throws light on the amount of data that can be attained by the FBI legally through these messaging apps.
Is It Time To Switch Apps?
The leaked document was obtained by Rolling Stone and Property of the People. Apparently, by means of a warrant or subpoena, the FBI can gain access to data and information from the messaging apps. And guess what, the two apps that top the list are WhatsApp and iMessage. In the wake of a legal request from FBI, WhatsApp, iMessage and Line provide “limited” message content. It is the definition of “limited” that is relative and problematic to an extent. On the other hand, no message content is disclosed by apps like Telegram, Signal, Threema, Viber, WeChat and Wickr. As mentioned earlier “limited” might just be a band-aid to hide what is actually inside.
How Much Is Disclosed?
With a subpoena, the FBI can only gain access to “basic subscriber records” from WhatsApp. However, the case changes with a warrant. With a search warrant, the FBI will have easy access to address book contacts. WhatsApp will also send the message source and destination, if there is a surveillance request. These details will be sent every fifteen minutes although it doesn’t comprise any message content. But don’t worry. FBI can gain access to actaul message content too in case you have backed up your WhatsApp messages to iCloud on your iPhone. This is because Apple is under the obligation to hand over the iCloud encryption key if a search warrant is produced.
And now coming the iMessage, with a subpoena, the app will give access to “basic subscriber information” but with a court order, it will provide 25 days worth of iMessage search queries. Authorities also have the legal provision of making backups of a target’s device if they have a search warrant. On the bright side, Apple in contrast to WhatsApp does not offer surveillance capability. Telegram and Signal can be counted as the two apps with the most viable limitations. Telegram provides neither message content nor contact information. However, as per the leaked document, Telegra, might provide IP addresses and phone numbers particularly for terrorist investigations.
The information above is not really a surprise since we are all aware at some level about this transfer of information. However, it cannot be denied that it gives a clearer picture and a detailed comparison between the different apps. Now you won’t be caught up in serious dilemma in case you are thinking of switching apps.