Boston Globe: Feds found an unexpected way to spy on your phone. Now what?
December 11, 2023
According to Democratic US Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, law enforcement agencies have been quietly using court orders to scoop up “push notification” data collected by tech titans Apple and Google, while banning the companies from revealing that they were sharing the data.
The news last week came as a surprise to internet civil liberties activists, who said they’d never before heard of using push notifications as a surveillance tool. “We didn’t know it was happening,” said Jeramie Scott, senior counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “We’re just finding out right now.”
Push notifications are those little messages that pop up on our phones telling us about some event, like an appointment or the score of a basketball game. These notifications can contain valuable and sensitive information, such as the user’s location, the contents of text messages and emails, the names and phone numbers of the user’s friends, information about online purchases, travel plans, or whether or not the household burglar alarm is switched on or off.
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