Apple Refuses Justice Dept’s Demand To Relinquish iMessage Exchanges

Apple Refuses Justice Dept’s Demand To Relinquish iMessage Exchanges

Apple was asked to relinquish real-time iMessage exchanges between two suspects as part of an investigation that involved guns and drugs, according to The New York Times. However, the technology company said that it was unable to fulfill the request because of the end-to-end encryption of messages exchanged over iMessage.


The Justice Department had obtained a court order for messages exchanged by the suspects sent over their iPhones. The New York Times reported the dispute between Apple and Department of Justice, saying, “Government officials had warned for months that this type of standoff was inevitable as technology companies like Apple and Google embraced tougher encryption. The case, coming after several others in which similar requests were rebuffed, prompted some senior Justice Department and F.B.I. officials to advocate taking Apple to court, several current and former law enforcement officials said.”

The All Writs Act has been made use of by DOJ in the past to enforce the request for obtaining user data.

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In 2013, Microsoft had refused to provide emails connected to a drug trafficking suspect, following which it is scheduled to present its case in a New York appellate court on Wednesday, according to Apple Insider. Since the servers from where the emails were exchanged were located in Dublin, Ireland, Microsoft said it will only furnish the required emails once the U.S. authorities acquired proper documentation from Irish court.

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What also prevents Apple from relinquishing the iMessage communications is that the data on devices running on Apple’s newer software (iOS 8) is password protected. While the tech company was able to provide certain messages that could be obtained from the cloud, they were not real-time as the authorities had asked for.

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“There’s another attack on our civil liberties that we see heating up every day — it’s the battle over encryption,” Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s CEO, said at a conference this year. “We think this is incredibly dangerous.

“If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it, too.” If criminals “know there’s a key hidden somewhere, they won’t stop until they find it,” he said.

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