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Governments may be spying on Apple & Google users through push notifications

Senator Ron Wyden has alerted the public about a major privacy concern: governments may be spying on smartphone users through push notifications. In a letter to the Department of Justice, Wyden revealed that foreign governments have been demanding user data from Google and Apple, including push notification information. (via. Reuters)

While specifics remain unclear, this discovery exposes a new avenue for governments to track smartphone activity. Push notifications, the familiar “dings” and visual alerts informing users of new messages, news, and other updates, travel through Google and Apple’s servers. This gives them a unique vantage point into user app usage and facilitates government surveillance of specific apps, as Wyden explained.

Wyden urged the Department of Justice to reconsider any policies hindering public discussions surrounding this issue. Apple, initially restricted from sharing information by the government, welcomed the opportunity to shed light on the matter. They confirmed government monitoring of push notifications and promised to update their transparency reports to detail such requests in the future.

The Department of Justice has yet to respond to inquiries about push notification surveillance or their alleged role in gagging Apple and Google. Wyden’s information stems from a “tip,” but a reliable source confirmed that both foreign and U.S. government agencies have been requesting metadata related to push notifications. This data can be used to link anonymous messaging app users to their Apple or Google accounts.

While the source refused to identify the foreign governments involved, they confirmed them to be democracies allied with the United States. The timeframe for such data collection remains unknown, the report adds.

Though often unnoticed by users, push notifications have raised concerns among industry experts due to their reliance on Google and Apple servers. Earlier this year, French developer David Libeau highlighted the lack of awareness regarding data emission through push notifications, labeling them as a “privacy nightmare.”

This news underscores the need for increased transparency and stronger data protection measures. As users, it’s crucial to be informed about the potential privacy implications of our digital activities and demand greater control over our data.

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Abdul Raouf Al Sbeei

Abdul Raouf Al Sbeei

Abdul Raouf is a reporter in the Apple Newsroom, where he translates news into insightful and relatable stories. Abdul believes words hold magic and have power often ignored. You can find him between tweets or book pages.

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Who are we?

Supercharged is not just another news outlet. We’re a platform on a mission to offer personalized and ad-free news directly to you. Discover more of Supercharged.

Governments may be spying on Apple & Google users through push notifications

Senator Ron Wyden has alerted the public about a major privacy concern: governments may be spying on smartphone users through push notifications. In a letter to the Department of Justice, Wyden revealed that foreign governments have been demanding user data from Google and Apple, including push notification information. (via. Reuters)

While specifics remain unclear, this discovery exposes a new avenue for governments to track smartphone activity. Push notifications, the familiar “dings” and visual alerts informing users of new messages, news, and other updates, travel through Google and Apple’s servers. This gives them a unique vantage point into user app usage and facilitates government surveillance of specific apps, as Wyden explained.

Wyden urged the Department of Justice to reconsider any policies hindering public discussions surrounding this issue. Apple, initially restricted from sharing information by the government, welcomed the opportunity to shed light on the matter. They confirmed government monitoring of push notifications and promised to update their transparency reports to detail such requests in the future.

The Department of Justice has yet to respond to inquiries about push notification surveillance or their alleged role in gagging Apple and Google. Wyden’s information stems from a “tip,” but a reliable source confirmed that both foreign and U.S. government agencies have been requesting metadata related to push notifications. This data can be used to link anonymous messaging app users to their Apple or Google accounts.

While the source refused to identify the foreign governments involved, they confirmed them to be democracies allied with the United States. The timeframe for such data collection remains unknown, the report adds.

Though often unnoticed by users, push notifications have raised concerns among industry experts due to their reliance on Google and Apple servers. Earlier this year, French developer David Libeau highlighted the lack of awareness regarding data emission through push notifications, labeling them as a “privacy nightmare.”

This news underscores the need for increased transparency and stronger data protection measures. As users, it’s crucial to be informed about the potential privacy implications of our digital activities and demand greater control over our data.

TOPICS: ,
Share this Article
note icon

Did you know?

Easily add Supercharged to your Home Screen and stay informed on the go! Get instant updates and breaking news stories via push notifications directly on your iPhone and Apple Watch. Just tap the share icon, then "Add to Home Screen," and be the first to know.

Have a tip for our newsroom? Securely reach out to us and tell us what you know. Your insight and information are invaluable to the work we do. Click here.

Have a tip for our newsroom? Securely reach out to us and tell us what you know. Your insight and information are invaluable to the work we do. 

Editor's Pick

Abdul Raouf Al Sbeei

Abdul Raouf Al Sbeei

Abdul Raouf is a reporter in the Apple Newsroom, where he translates news into insightful and relatable stories. Abdul believes words hold magic and have power often ignored. You can find him between tweets or book pages.

Read More

Craig Federighi

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