Apple Tracks Your iMessage Contacts and Could Share Them With Police
What you say in your iMessages may be somewhat private and safe from the prying eyes of law enforcement, but the people you have in your contacts list isn’t.
In fact, Apple logs your iMessage contacts almost every time you enter a new number to start a message. Apple’s iMessage had a few security holes in March and April that potentially leaked photos and contacts, respectively.
Sam Biddle at The Intercept reports that iMessage conversation metadata gets logged in Apple’s servers, which the company could be compelled to turn over to law enforcement by court order.Apple logs metadata includes every one of your iMessage contacts–regardless of whether you’ve ever contacted them or not.
The log also includes the date and time when you entered the number, as well as your IP address. These logs are then stored for a period of 30 days and can be handed over to law enforcement with a court order. While the content of those messages remains encrypted and out of the police’s hands, these records list time, date, frequency of contact and limited location information.
Apple confirmed to The Intercept that it does comply with subpoenas and other legal requests for these exact logs, but maintained that message content is still kept private. Its commitment to user security isn’t really undermined by these illuminations — phone companies have been giving this information to law enforcement for decades — but it does illustrate what they can and cannot protect. While the company resisted FBI requests for backdoor iPhone access earlier this year and then introduced a wholly redesigned file system with a built-in unified encryption method on every device, Apple can’t keep authorities from knowing when and where you text people.