Apple and Google have confirmed that they are being directed by authorities in various countries to share logs of push notifications from users’ iPhones and Android devices.
Senator’s Investigation Unveils Surveillance
American Senator Roy Wyden, in 2022, initiated an investigation after receiving information suggesting such surveillance. His scrutiny revealed that push notifications are delivered through services like Apple’s Push Notification Service and Google’s Firebase Cloud Messaging, making both companies intermediaries in this data transmission process.
Revelation and Transparency
Upon pressing Apple and Google, Wyden encountered a barrier: the US government had prohibited disclosing such information in their transparency reports. To counter this, Wyden made the issue public himself, urging the US Department of Justice to lift the secrecy rule. Consequently, Apple has now incorporated statistics on these requests in its transparency report.
Implications and Privacy Concerns
While message contents in encrypted messengers remain secure, the existence and frequency of notifications can reveal significant user information. Notification logs, indicating messages from food or taxi services, might disclose a user’s location and habits, notes NIXSolutions.
The revelation of government requests for push notification logs raises concerns about user privacy, shedding light on the extent of data accessed by authorities without public knowledge.