FBI can read your WhatsApp and iMessage chat information, leaked documents claim

Your private messaging might not be as private as you think.

Popular encrypted messaging apps including iMessage, WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Viber, and WeChat can all be snooped on by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to a report by Rolling Stone, leaked documents from the FBI reveal that the intelligence agency can request private data from over nine encrypted messaging services.

While your messages remain end-to-end encrypted, the FBI can collect real-time metadata about your messages via WhatsApp and other chat services.

This includes your phone number, IP address, location, message timestamps, and who you've contacted over time.

This information can be used to accurately piece together your movements and contacts, without breaking the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp promises users. While this doesn't seem that dangerous, it could have consequences for reporters or whistleblowers who need confidentiality to stay safe.

Meanwhile, the US government agency is able to acquire iMessages from iCloud with a search warrant in line with Apple's law enforcement guidelines.

A spokesperson for WhatsApp told the Independent that the contents of all of its chats remain secure and fully encrypted.

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They said: “All of the messages you send to family and friends on WhatsApp are end-to-end encrypted. We know that people want their messaging services to be reliable and safe – and that requires WhatsApp to have limited data."

"We carefully review, validate and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law, and are clear about this on our website and in regular transparency reports."

“This work has helped us lead the industry in delivering private communications while keeping people safe, and has led to arrests in criminal cases, including in instances of child sexual exploitation."

A ProPublica report earlier this year uncovered that the Meta-owned messaging platform has more than 1,000 workers on contract whose job it is to review user reports of explicit or harmful content every day.

The U.S. Justice Department reportedly asked for court orders for data from the platform at least a dozen times since 2017, even using it to bust a former government employee who leaked documents exposing 'how dirty money flows through U.S. banks'.

  • WhatsApp
  • Apple

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