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Apple and Google are probably spying on your push notifications

2023-12-06 16:15 by
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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden warned that foreign governments are spying on smartphone users by compelling Apple and Google to turn over push notification records. Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, highlighted the government surveillance technique in a letter sent to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) today. Wyden is specifically asking the DOJ to allow Apple and Google to discuss government requests for push notification records with their users, which Wyden says the US government has required them to keep secret thus far.

Push notifications are the pop-up messages that appear on your lock screen and home screen to alert you about new messages, updates, breaking news and other app updates. Since these push notifications pass through Apple and Google's servers, the tech giants are "in a unique position to facilitate government surveillance of how users are using particular apps," Wyden, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, explains in the letter, which was shared with TechCrunch.

If you are using end-to-end encrypted messaging services like iMessage and WhatsApp, that encryption still protects the messages – even if you've set your iPhone to preview the content. Your iPhone still needs to carry out the decryption on receipt, so Apple would not have the message content to pass onto any government demanding it.

But push data can still reveal a lot about you. Even push notifications from apps as innocuous as food delivery services might reveal where a delivery is coming from, and therefore your approximate location. An Uber notification might contain a message from a driver telling you where to meet. And so on.

Apple advises developers not to include sensitive data in notifications and to encrypt any data before adding it to a notification payload. However, this requires action on the developers' part. Likewise, metadata (like which apps are sending notifications and how often) is not encrypted, potentially giving anyone with access to the information insight into users' app usage.

Read more -here-


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