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Apple has for a long time touted its privacy credentials. Its refusal to help the FBI Apple Refuses to Help the FBI, Popcorn Time Returns... [Tech News Digest] Apple Refuses to Help the FBI, Popcorn Time Returns... [Tech News Digest] Apple stands up for personal privacy, the original Popcorn Time gets resurrected, Kanye West learns the price of piracy, Sega gives games away on Steam, and play Pong on your Apple Watch. Read More unlock San Bernadino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone being a prime example. However, those privacy credentials have taken a knock with the revelation that Apple logs your iMessage contacts.

According to The Intercept, the Messaging app communicates with Apple’s servers every time you contact someone. This helps to determine whether or not that person is also using Apple’s proprietary messaging system.

If they are a fellow Apple user, your communications will take place via iMessage, complete with blue bubbles. If they’re using a non-Apple device, your communications will take place via SMS, complete with green bubbles Does Apple Use Green Bubbles to Make You Hate Android Users? Does Apple Use Green Bubbles to Make You Hate Android Users? Blue bubbles and green bubbles might seem like a small distinction, but to thousands of Twitter users they aren't. Let's look at this phenomenon. Read More .

Apple logs this data, along with the date and time, and your IP address. This data is then retained for 30 days, during which time law enforcement officers can request access to it. If such a request is made, Apple is compelled to turn the data over, revealing who you may have been in contact with during the previous month.

Apple Defends the Turning Over of Metadata

This revelation came from a document sourced from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Electronic Surveillance Support Team. Apple issued a statement which seemed to confirm the basic facts but still defended the practice:


“When law enforcement presents us with a valid subpoena or court order, we provide the requested information if it is in our possession. Because iMessage is encrypted end-to-end, we do not have access to the contents of those communications.”

“We work closely with law enforcement to help them understand what we can provide and make clear these query logs don’t contain the contents of conversations or prove that any communication actually took place.”

It’s heartening to know Apple isn’t keeping track of the actual contents of the messages sent through iMessage. But this still dents Apple’s reputation as the custodian of its users’ privacy.

Does this information surprise you? Or dishearten you? Do you assume everything you say and do on your phone is logged anyway? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Image Credit: Jan Persiel via Flickr

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