Apple keeps track of all the phone numbers you contact using iMessage
Mobile Communications

Apple keeps track of all the phone numbers you contact using iMessage

In the wake of an FBI investigation, Apple mounted a high-profile campaign on behalf of its users’ privacy. But it turns out our privacy is still being compromised.

Apple keeps a log of everyone you try to contact using iMessage, according to a leaked documented. These logs contain personal contact information, including phone numbers, and are stored in Apple’s servers for 30 days before being deleted. Furthermore, Apple has shared these server logs with police after being compelled by a court order, according to the leaked document obtained by The Intercept.

Apple has exalted iMessage for its end-to-end encryption, meaning that the contents of the messages cannot be accessed anywhere else outside of the iPhone. But Apple is storing contact information and metadata every time an iPhone is used to send a message. Apple acknowledged sharing certain data from its server logs with police.

The company sent the following statement to The Intercept:

“In some cases, we are able to provide data from server logs that are generated from customers accessing certain apps on their devices. 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.”

So, how are these logs created in the first place? Every time you send a text on your iPhone, the Messages app pings the Apple servers to check if the recipient is a fellow iMessage user. Apple keeps a log of all these queries, including the phone numbers or contact information of the parties involved (iMessage can be linked to an email address), date, time, and IP address.

Apple stores this information on its servers for 30 days, even if the recipient turned out not to be using iMessage (in other words, they’re a green bubble). It’s unclear how often these queries are re-triggered. According to The Verge, they “don’t happen every time a message is sent, but... they do occur on a regular basis.”

Why this matters: Even though Apple admitted to storing contact information and keeping track of every time your iPhone sends a query to its servers to check for iMessage compatibility, Cupertino has made it very clear that a query does not prove that a conversation actually took place.

The query to Apple’s servers is initiated right after you finish typing a phone number into your Messages app, but the query is completed—turning the phone number either blue (iMessage) or green (default SMS)—without you having to send or even type an actual message.

Phone companies comply with similar court orders all the time, sharing metadata and call logs, so this new information simply means the iPhone is on par with other smartphones. However, Apple has a reputation as a staunch guardian of users’ privacy—the company has been very clear as to why it won’t share certain information, but should be just as transparent about the information it does share.

IDG Insider

PREVIOUS ARTICLE

«Mozilla tests ad-blocking feature in Firefox

NEXT ARTICLE

AMD has its eyes on Las Vegas with Polaris GPUs»
author_image
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

Add Your Comment

Recommended for You

silhouette

Everything you need to know about… Tech Careers

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

kathryn-cave

Blockchain For Dummies: What you really need to know

Kathryn Cave looks at the big trends in global tech

martin-veitch-thumbnail

What we know and don’t know about digital transformation

Martin Veitch's inside track on today’s tech trends

Most Recent Comments

Our Case Studies

IDG Connect delivers full creative solutions to meet all your demand generatlon needs. These cover the full scope of options, from customized content and lead delivery through to fully integrated campaigns.

images

Our Marketing Research

Our in-house analyst and editorial team create a range of insights for the global marketing community. These look at IT buying preferences, the latest soclal media trends and other zeitgeist topics.

images

Poll

Should companies have Bitcoins on hand in preparation for a Ransomware attack?