As Apple and WhatsApp have built themselves into multibillion-dollar behemoths, they’ve done it while preaching the importance of privacy, especially when it comes to secure messaging.
But in a previously unreported FBI document obtained by Rolling Stone, the bureau claims that it’s particularly easy to harvest data from Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage services, as long as the FBI has a warrant or subpoena. Judging by this document, “the most popular encrypted messaging apps iMessage and WhatsApp are also the most permissive,” according to Mallory Knodel, the chief technology officer at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has articulated a “privacy-focused vision” built around WhatsApp, the most popular messaging service in the world. Apple CEO Tim Cook says privacy is a “basic human right” and that Apple believes in “giving the user transparency and control,” a philosophy that extends to the company’s wildly popular iMessage app. For journalists, activists, and government critics who worry about government mass surveillance and political retribution, secure messaging tools can mean the difference between doing their work safely or facing imminent danger.