“Encryption used in Apple’s iMessage chat service has stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects’ conversations, an internal government document reveals,” Declan McCullagh and Jennifer Van Grove report for CNET.
“An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document seen by CNET discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, ‘it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices’ even with a court order approved by a federal judge,” McCullagh and Van Grove report. “The DEA’s warning, marked ‘law enforcement sensitive,’ is the most detailed example to date of the technological obstacles — FBI director Robert Mueller has called it the ‘Going Dark’ problem — that police face when attempting to conduct court-authorized surveillance on non-traditional forms of communication.”
McCullagh and Van Grove report, “When Apple’s iMessage was announced in mid-2011, Cupertino said it would use ‘secure end-to-end encryption.’ It quickly became the most popular encrypted chat program in history: Apple CEO Tim Cook said last fall that 300 billion messages have been sent so far, which are transmitted through the Internet rather than as more costly SMS messages carried by wireless providers… Christopher Soghoian, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said yesterday that ‘Apple’s service is not designed to be government-proof… It’s much much more difficult to intercept than a telephone call or a text message’ that federal agents are used to, Soghoian says. ‘The government would need to perform an active man-in-the-middle attack… The real issue is why the phone companies in 2013 are still delivering an unencrypted audio and text service to users. It’s disgraceful.'”
Read more in the full article here.