(RepublicanInformer.com)- According to Rolling Stone, in a previously unreported FBI document obtained through a FOIA request, the FBI revealed that it is easy to harvest data from both Facebook’s WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage services once a warrant or subpoena is issued.
While the apps may be secure from hackers, the FBI document reveals how law enforcement agencies have at their disposal the legal pathways to gain access to sensitive user data from the most popular secure messaging apps.
The document titled “Lawful Access” is dated January 7, 2021, and was prepared by the bureau’s Science and Technology Branch in conjunction with the FBI’s Operational Technology Division. According to Rolling Stone, it reveals how the FBI can legally obtain data from apps hyped for their security and encryption services.
An internal FBI guide, the document explains what kinds of data both state and federal law enforcement agencies can request from nine of the largest messaging apps.
Despite Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s claims on how safe and secure WhatsApp messaging is, the FBI document reveals just how easy it is to access user information and activities in real-time. Of all the messaging apps reviewed by the FBI, WhatsApp is easier to access than nearly every other major app.
While a subpoena will only yield basic subscriber information, when presented with a search warrant, WhatsApp will turn over the user’s contact list along with the contact lists for every other user who has the targeted individual in their contact lists.
WhatsApp also quickly produces data in response to a pen register. A pen register is a surveillance request that captures both the source and destination of every message for a targeted individual. When receiving a pen register, WhatsApp will have the metadata to law enforcement within fifteen minutes. According to the document, no other messaging app can produce the data as swiftly as WhatsApp.
Rolling Stone notes that the metadata provided to law enforcement by WhatsApp captures which users are talking to each other and when, as well as which other users they have in their address books.
According to Rolling Stone, the ease and swiftness with which law enforcement can access this data could have “serious consequences” for those who depend on secure and anonymous messaging, including journalists working with confidential sources or government whistleblowers.