iMessage is a convenient way for iOS users to swap messages, and it seems that extends to those engaging in less-than-honest dealings, particularly of the drug variety in this case. The folks over at CNET got their hands on an internal Drug Enforcement Administration memo that details an investigation and the difficulty suspects who use Apple‘s messaging system pose.
Obviously this is good news for those who are hyper-conscious of their privacy and the snooping attempts of others, but not for government agencies trying to finger suspects for crimes. According to the DEA document, “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices.” iMessage uses end-to-end encryption, and is massively popular, with the service having been used to transmit billions of chat messages.
It seems that as part of the investigation discussed, DEA agents received court permission to grab suspects’ text message logs from Verizon, only to discover blocks of obviously missing content. That content, it turns out, was because the individuals under surveillance were intermittently using iMessage. According to the DEA, those messages can’t be grabbed using Title III interceptions, trace devices, or trap devices.
This is part of an ongoing problem for law enforcement, with various government agencies having pursued and actively pursuing measures to add ways for them to access these messages. The ACLU has another view of the issue, however, with its senior policy analyst Christopher Soghoian stating, “The real issue is why the phone companies in 2013 are still delivering an unencrypted audio and text service to users. It’s disgraceful.”