While Baltimore’s Barksdale crew (HBO’s The Wire) would’ve loved Apple’s iMessage feature, The US DEA isn’t too thrilled, to say the least. Even going through the proper channels, warrants and court orders, still doesn’t help.
According to a letter or rather an intelligence note obtained by CNET, over a month ago the DEA San Jose Resident Office found out “messages sent via iMessage between Apple products (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and iMac) are not captured by pen register, trap and trace devices, or Title III interceptions.
iMessages between two Apple devices are considered encrypted communication and cannot be intercepted, regardless of cell phone service provider.” The note also goes on to say investigators might think they have a complete conversation if they don’t know the iMessage parts were not captured. The news came amidst an ongoing investigation.
Situations like this is what the FBI and other law enforcement bodies have been complaining about for years. Going Dark. Communication over the internet (think VoIP) has been more than just a challenge for the Feds and others.
Last May, CNET’s chief political correspondent Declan McCullagh reported that the FBI drafted a proposal that would require social networking sites, VoIP providers, and other ISPs to create a backdoor for the bureau. The problem is that even though CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) was amended in 2004 to include broadband networks, it still doesn’t cover programs like Apple’s Facetime or iMessage, Google’s video chat protocols (such as Hangouts) or XBox Live. Without readily available access to these and others like them, law enforcement officials are at a disadvantage when trying to conduct surveillance on suspected targets.
This legislation the Feds are going for won’t be welcomed or go unchallenged as the internet community has been on alert since SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), making any additional and desired expansion of surveillance laws much more difficult.Apple’s iMessage uses secure end-to-end encryption and since it’s debut in 2011 easily became one of the most popular and used encrypted chat programs to date.