GCHQ Wants Apple to add it to iMessage, FaceTime Chats

The British version of the NSA—called Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)—wants Apple to secretly add the agency to iMessage chats and FaceTime calls (via ACLU).

[The GCHQ’s Idea to Spy on Encrypted Messaging Apps]


It sounds like the agency was enamored of the Group FaceTime bug which let people spy on conversations under certain circumstances. Under the Ghost Proposal the government should be able to add secret chat participants:

It’s relatively easy for a service provider to silently add a law enforcement participant to a group chat or call. The service provider usually controls the identity system and so really decides who’s who and which devices are involved — they’re usually involved in introducing the parties to a chat or call…. In a solution like this, we’re normally talking about suppressing a notification on a target’s device… and possibly those they communicate with.

This is a sneaky way to bypass end-to-end encrypted messaging apps. Conversations will still be encrypted but governments will be able to spy on you anyway. Which essentially renders the encryption worthless if you can’t trust who you’re chatting to.

As the ACLU points out, this won’t be limited to democratic governments. Authoritarian governments will also want to participate. It’s the same backdoor argument all over again: You can’t ensure that only the good guys can use them.

[It’s Official: Australia Bans Encryption]

2 thoughts on “GCHQ Wants Apple to add it to iMessage, FaceTime Chats

  • GCHQ, can in the immortal words of the prophet, ‘get stuffed’. But then again, this is under the control of a Prime Minister responsible whilst Home Secretary, for the Snooper’s Charter.

    Along the same lines, the Metropolitan Police in London issued a fixed penalty notice – a fine, to a man for refusing to be Face Recognised as he legitimately walked past a facial recognition camera on test in a London street. He was stopped by a plain clothes policeman who I think issued the notice when the man told him to ‘p*** o**’. This is in a country with more CCTV cameras than any country in Western Europe.

    Perhaps unwise to respond in that way, but its not unreasonable to protest at the unfettered and unregulated use of spying technology, especially when you are going about your daily business and are innocent of anything other than being in the wrong place.

    Its one thing capturing images, performing a match against known felons then binning the image if there’s no match – but the UK Police are supposed to bin DNA samples of innocent people after a set period – hint – they always follow the rules. Not.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.