It can be hard to know who to trust these days, even for your government. There are a lot of programs available now that allow you to communicate privately, with the promise that they will keep your messages safe. However, it’s not always possible to tell if these companies are trustworthy or if they’re providing an adequate level of security. In this article, you’ll find out how the FBI has access to some of the most popular messaging platforms and what this means for those looking to protect their privacy.
WhatsApp and its peers are often touted as a secure communication platform – yet the FBI has access to a massive number of platforms.
In the US, a document has been leaked detailing the messaging services that the FBI has access to in some way – the document also details exactly what data the agency can access on each platform. On the one hand, the situation is much worse than we thought, with the FBI looking behind many messaging services. On the other hand, it is somewhat reassuring that end-to-end encrypted messages cannot be decrypted, shows what data each service provider hands over to the authorities in the event of a court order – the paper also shows, of course, exactly what kind of order is needed for each type of data.
According to the document, the FBI may have at least partial access to the content of messages for Apple iMessage and WhatsApp – but not for Telegram, Signal or Threema. In the case of iMessage, Signal, WhatsApp, and partly Threema, the authorities can ask when an account was registered and when it was last used – but in the case of Telegram, there is no related contact information that can be used by authorities to obtain information about the account. Telegram would “maybe” provide data (IP address, phone number) if an account could be linked to a proven terrorist act.
In the case of WhatsApp, not only the account information is available, but also the list of saved contacts, and even the FBI could get the information on who added an account to their contact list. Apple will even give access to iCloud, which can store iMessage and WhatsApp keys so that the authorities can use them to decrypt conversations.
As of iOS 5, the iMessage service is built into the Messages app, which will allow people to send free text messages and photos to their iPhone and iPad users.
WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app created in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees. Initially, the app began as an application that allowed users to send texts to each other and has since evolved into a full-fledged messaging platform with updates and configuration options that allow you to do so much more. WhatsApp allows you to send text messages and media (audio, video, pictures), but it also allows you to call people on the same platform, group chat with up to 300 friends and make video calls with up to 4 people at once.
Telegram is a cloud-based instant messaging and voice calling service owned by Telegram Messenger LLP, a company registered in London, England. It was developed by the Russian entrepreneur Pavel Durov as an alternative to SMS.
The Signal is an app that can replace your traditional text and phone number with a fully encrypted and private version. It also includes features like call-backs, which allow users to connect with people they’re interested in.
Threema is a free messenger that’s secure, easy to use, and always at hand. It uses end-to-end encryption to ensure that every message you send and receive is confidential and can be shared with multiple people at once. Your chats are completely invisible to others, even if they gain access to your smartphone. You can think of Threema as WhatsApp without advertising or Telegram without becoming public property.
The encryption debate has been a focal point for tech and political news for the past few weeks, with WhatsApp and its peers often touted as secure communication platforms. However, a new report has found that the FBI can access many chat apps – meaning you don’t have anything to hide until you do.