Apple Is Low-Key Helping The Police Stalk You By Recording Your Contacts

by John Haltiwanger

Apple is reportedly storing your iMessage contacts and could be compelled to share them with police.

This seems to contradict Apple's prior claims that its messaging platform is particularly secure and private.


According to a document obtained by The Intercept, every time you put a number into your phone to start a text message conversation, the Messages app communicates with Apple servers.

In the process, Apple is apparently recording whether you're sending messages via SMS (the green bubble) or iMessage (the blue bubble).

While Apple isn't logging the actual content of your messages, it is recording the date and time you entered a number, as well as your IP address, The Intercept reports.

This is significant because a user's IP address could reveal information about his or her location, which runs contrary to Apple's 2013 claim it doesn't "store data related to customers' location."

Apple told The Intercept it only stores this information for 30 days, at which point it's deleted.

But, if issued a court order, Apple could be forced to hand such information over to law enforcement.

According to The Intercept, it is not very difficult for these type of orders to be obtained, and they typically only require government lawyers can prove the information is "likely" to offer information where “use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

The Intercept gathered this information via a document it obtained from a Florida law enforcement agency.


This document also showed Apple might log information about your contacts via the information you enter into other apps, such as the Contacts app.

Apple confirmed all of this in a statement it issued to The Intercept,

When law enforcement presents us with a valid subpoena or court order, we provide the requested information if it is in our possession. Because iMessage is encrypted end-to-end, we do not have access to the contents of those communications. In some cases, we are able to provide data from server logs that are generated from customers accessing certain apps on their devices. We work closely with law enforcement to help them understand what we can provide and make clear these query logs don't contain the contents of conversations or prove that any communication actually took place.

It's true, Apple is not necessarily violating its past claims in a major way, and it's also not reading what you're actually saying in text messages.

But who you call, when you call them and the location of your call could also be used against you in any number of ways.

Just think about how many people you've actually exchanged numbers with or communicated with.

This is not to say we should all feel paranoid, but that we, the public, should pressure companies to take stronger and more public stands to protect our privacy and security.

Privacy is a fundamental right. You might feel that you have nothing to hide, but that doesn't justify unnecessary violations of your private life.

In a world where we're perpetually leaving a trail of data all over the place, it's good to keep the conversation about privacy going.

Citations: The Intercept