Apple's iMessage encryption thwarts government investigations

The encryption used by Apple's iMessage service is hindering federal drug enforcement agency investigations, says a report in CNET. CNET obtained an internal Drug Enforcement Administration document that details the problem faced by agents who are tracking suspects using non-traditional communication methods.

According to the document, the end-to-end encryption used by iMessage makes it "impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices," even when there is a court order authorizing the electronic wiretap. This problem was discovered when agents noticed that messages sent from one iPhone to another iPhone via iMessage were not being captured during a surveillance.

The inability to adequately conduct surveillance is a growing problem for law enforcement. FBI director Robert Mueller recently told Congress that "there is a growing and dangerous gap between law enforcement's legal authority to conduct electronic surveillance, and its actual ability to conduct such surveillance." He asked Congress "to ensure that the laws by which we operate and which provide protection to individual privacy rights keep pace with new threats and new technology."