According to CNET, internal U.S. Government documents have revealed that the encryption used in Apple's iMessage chat service has "stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects' conversations" because "'it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices' even with a court order approved by a federal judge."
The DEA's "Intelligence Note" says that iMessage came to the attention of the agency's San Jose, Calif., office as agents were drafting a request for a court order to perform real-time electronic surveillance under Title III of the Federal Wiretap Act. They discovered that records of text messages already obtained from Verizon Wireless were incomplete because the target of the investigation used iMessage: "It became apparent that not all text messages were being captured."
This echoes what other law enforcement agencies have been telling politicians on Capitol Hill for years. Last May, CNET reported that the FBI has quietly asked Web companies not to oppose a law that would levy new wiretap requirements on social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail. During an appearance two weeks later at a Senate hearing, the FBI's Mueller confirmed that the bureau is pushing for "some form of legislation."
Andrew Weissmann, the FBI's general counsel, said last month at an American Bar Association event that enacting a new law to amend a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act is a "top priority" this year. CALEA requires telecommunications providers to build in backdoors for easier surveillance, but does not apply to Internet companies, which are required to provide technical assistance instead.
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