WhatsApp and iMessage are the most permissive apps for police records, according to an FBI report

MADRID, Dec. 3 (Portaltic / EP) –

The instant messaging applications WhatsApp and iMessage, from Apple, they are the most permissive when sharing the personal data of its users with police sources and, specifically, with the FBI.

That is what reveals a document dated January 7, 2021 to which the American edition of Rolling Stone magazine has had access, in which the level of vulnerability of these ‘apps’ and other messaging services, such as Line, Telegram or Wickr.

This document, entitled ‘Legal Access’, has been prepared jointly by the Division of Science and Technology and the Division of Operational Technology, and is an internal FBI guide detailing the types of data that can be requested law enforcement agencies.

As mentioned in this document, WhatsApp provides the FBI with the basic information of its users through a subpoena. However, if a search warrant is presented, the messaging application will provide you with specific data on these: the contacts that person is chatting with and information about other users who have the researcher in their contact list.

WhatsApp is also capable of generating in just 15 minutes the activity of a specific user so that the investigation agency knows their movements in real time. That is, it collects the origin and destination of all messages, except for their content.

This is because the app uses end-to-end encryption for the content of the users’ message, so that only the sender and receiver can see its content. “We carefully review, validate and respond to requests based on applicable law, and this is clear to us on our website and regular transparency reports,” the FBI spokeswoman said.

For its part, Apple’s message service, iMessage, also appears in the FBI document. According to this document, if a court order or a search warrant, the company is obliged to provide basic information of the investigated subscribers.

In addition, they would also be obliged to offer data related to the queries made on the platform in the last 25 days. This information would include the searches that users make to look for others or if these others look for them.

However, as with WhatsApp, the technology company does not share interaction data between users nor the content of the messages that are sent between them.

But that only happens in the application itself since, if they are carried out Backups of these conversations on the cloud, encryption support is lost as the police may request backup copies of these devices.


This report also refers to other messaging ‘apps’ that have fewer users, such as Viber, Signal and Wickr.

Signal, for its part, only provides the date and time the user registered and the last date you logged in to your service. The content of the messages, however, is not available in any case.

The same thing happens with Viber, which only offers the account number (for example, the phone number with which the application has been registered) and the time it was created. Although it does not share the content of the conversations, it is possible to access the sending and receiving dates of messages, the recipient and the time.

Wickr, however, provides the total number of messages that have been sent and received, profile picture, the date of last use or the number of external phones connected to the account.

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