March 1, 2024

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Mobile notifications are another way for the government to spy on users

A previously unknown tactic used by the US and other governments to spy on cell phone users has come to light thanks to a letter sent to the US Department of Justice.

According to a letter from US Senator Ron Wyden, unnamed governments tracked users through notifications sent to their mobile phones. Wyden and his staff did not specify which governments were referred to in the letter or where the information came from. However, a Reuters source confirmed that this practice used by both the US and its allies.

Indirectly this practice Apple also confirmedwhich stated that until today had no right to speak publicly on this issue. Push notifications are sent by all sorts of apps to inform the user about incoming messages, calls, and updates.

Most users don’t realize that almost all of these notifications go through Google (for Android phones) or Apple (for iPhones) servers. This means that both companies have privileged access to notifications and can “make it easier to track how users use specific apps” – writes Wyden.

According to the source Reutersgovernments are asking the two companies for notification metadata, allowing them to, for example, link anonymous contact app users to specific Apple or Google accounts.

In his letter, the senator asked the Justice Department to allow Google and Apple to warn their users about the risk of surveillance through notifications. Apple said in a statement that Wyden’s letter gives it the leeway to educate the public on the issue.

“In this case, the federal government prohibited us from sharing information,” the company said. “Now that this method has become known, we are updating our transparency reports to indicate such requests.” [от правительств]”.

Google and the US Department of Justice declined to comment.

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