WhatsApp and iMessage: that’s how easy it is for the FBI to extract data

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An explosive document from the FBI shows how easily the US security agency can get user data from WhatsApp and iMessage. The two popular messengers are particularly “revealing”, they say.

A leaked document from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation describes that the mobile messenger apps react differently to requests for user data. With Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage, the hurdles should be particularly low in comparison. The access to private records by the FBI is possible for the two messengers probably almost in real time.

The now published document describes how US law enforcement agencies have several legal avenues to extract sensitive user data from the most popular messenger apps. It is a kind of manual that explains in detail how the FBI can get the operators of the apps to release data. The prerequisite for this is a search warrant or a subpoena.

It shouldn’t be about message content, but about sender and recipient as well as other metadata. The address book is also published. WhatsApp provides the collected data at intervals of 15 minutes after request by the FBI.

A WhatsApp spokeswoman has confirmed the FBI’s actions. At the same time, it is pointed out that the users’ messages are still secure via end-to-end encryption . Law enforcement agencies have no access to it. Apple has not issued a statement and instead referred to its in-house guidelines for legal proceedings.