Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Apple's iMessage Can't Be Intercepted by the Feds

True, it may not have been the intention of Apple's iMessage developers, but their peer-to-peer messaging has been described as 'impossible to intercept' by the DEA. Even when taking the necessary legal measures prior to surveillance missions, the Feds have gotten hung up when iMessage was involved. The FBI, specifically the director Robert Mueller, has called these technological hurdles the 'Going Dark' problem.

Of course, the Feds have been tripped up before, but obviously they're learning. Most issues have been related to Internet based applications. Things like social networking sites and ISPs wanting to protect their users/customers. In 2003, representatives of the FBI's Electronic Surveillance Technology Section got the FCC to approve a requirement (in 2004) for 'broadband providers to provide more efficient standardized surveillance facilities.' However, this only applied to Internet phone companies, like Comcast I assume. The requirement didn't cover VoIP programs or other instant messaging services because they are not "managed" and don't use the public telephone network. So, not only is iMessage causing problems, but also Facebook chat, Gmail chat, and Xbox Live chat, for example.

With iPhones continually growing in popularity in the US, not to mention technology as a whole, this is bound to be a constant battle for the Feds to overcome. It's already been marked as 'law enforcement sensitive.' The 'Going Dark' initiative has already had 107 full-time employees since 2009. They've also done studies, hired consultants, and even involved technicians from their secretive Operational Technology Division in Quantico, VA. Clearly, they still haven't given up. Technology will continue to evolve and different types of communication will emerge.