Apple Adds Push Notification Data to Law Enforcement Guidelines

Apple has updated its Legal Process Guidelines to reflect the company's legal obligation to comply with law enforcement requests for Apple ID information associated with its push notification service. The change follows yesterday's revelation that governments are actively using smartphone notification data as a user surveillance tool.

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In the section titled "Information Available from Apple," Apple has appended an alphabetical list with the subsection "AA. Apple Push Notification Service (APNs)," which reads:

When users allow an application they have installed to receive push notifications, an Apple Push Notification Service (APNs) token is generated and registered to that developer and device. Some apps may have multiple APNs tokens for one account on one device to differentiate between messages and multi-media.

The Apple ID associated with a registered APNs token may be obtained with a subpoena or greater legal process.

Apple and Google have been forced by governments at home and abroad to provide users' data from notifications they get on their devices, US Senator Ron Wyden revealed on Wednesday in a letter to the Justice Department, drawing attention to a new smartphone privacy concern.

The Justice Department declined to comment on the letter, but Apple and Google confirmed that they have been subject to the requests. The companies explained that they had been prohibited from sharing information about how governments monitored push notifications until Wyden's letter had been made public and given them the legal opening they needed.

With push notifications enabled, Apple and Google create a small bit of data, known as a token, that links the user's device to the account information they've given the companies, such as their name and email address.

A Reuters source familiar with the matter confirmed that both foreign and U.S. government agencies have been asking Apple and Google for user information related to push notifications. The data is said to have been used to attempt to tie anonymous users of messaging apps to specific Apple or Google accounts.

The Washington Post said on Wednesday it had found more than two dozen search warrant applications and other documents in court records related to federal requests for push notification data. Though many were redacted, nine of the documents pertained to the federal hunt for U.S. Capitol rioters on January 6, 2021.

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Top Rated Comments

contacos Avatar
7 months ago

Note that there is very little data associated with this. You can “opt out” by not using app push notifications.
Doesn’t necessarily mean, that it’s not being sent, just that it is not being shown. We use a tool for example, which tracks if an app is still installed by sending a „silent“ push every night and if it bounces back, the tool knows, that the app has been uninstalled on device XY
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
7 months ago
So as a residence of the EU, how can I opt out of this.

this may or may not be a rhetorical question
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
7 months ago

Does this work on iPhones too?
yes, it is done with CleverTap. With the right SDK you can track basically anything everyone does in an App so as long as Apple does not really block 3rd party SDKs within Apps, their whole privacy speech does not mean anything.

Here is an example of myself using our app. The SDK from CleverTap basically lets me see anything a user does as long as I know the user ID



Attachment Image
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hagar Avatar
7 months ago

no, they are developing mass surveillance that bypasses encryption: https://last-chance-for-eidas.org/
That’s not at all a correct interpretation. They are preparing the legislative framework for an online identity. For instance EU-citizens will be able to use the online ID mechanism of one country in another.

There are some serious safety concerns expressed by experts and scientists, but that’s still something entirely different than “mass surveillance”.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cyanite Avatar
7 months ago

So as a residence of the EU, how can I opt out of this, especially since the US is already classified as „unsafe“ when it comes to the data of Europeans.
Note that there is very little data associated with this. You can “opt out” by not using app push notifications.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JosephAW Avatar
7 months ago
And why do I have this feeling that even turning off notifications doesn't disable this token? Disabling notifications just mutes the alert of data being exchanged?:rolleyes:
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)