Why Does The FBI Want Apple Users' Data?

Assuming they have it...


If you haven't been following the headlines, the Apple \ FBI \ AntiSec story of 4th September goes something like this: Anonymous allegedly hacked into an FBI agent's laptop, which held the device IDs for millions of Apple products. AntiSec, an affiliate of Anonymous, posted the data online. Check here to see if you're curious about whether your device ID is in the file.

When requested to comment, the FBI initially declined, and later said that there wasn't even any evidence that an FBI laptop was hacked into. In a statement, the agency also claimed it hadn't requested any data from Apple. Meanwhile, Apple too denied sharing device IDs with the FBI or any other agency.

This comes just about seven months after the FBI said it wanted access to Facebook and Twitter data. As TheAtlantic.com reported in January, the Strategic Information and Operation Center of the FBI wanted a system to dig through public info for keywords such as "terrorism". The problem is, private information can become public overnight when a privacy policy changes. A month after that, the monitoring of social networks by the Department of Homeland Security was in the news; some organisations wanted to know what data they were allowed to gather.

In short, if hardware IDs were indeed on an FBI laptop, there's reason to not be surprised. There is some evidence that the device IDs are genuine. Two questions then: (a) If the hacked data did come from the FBI, why would it want them? (b) If the FBI does have access to the hardware ID of an individual's laptop (or other device), do you need to worry? Gizmodo.com's explanation of device IDs — and whether the alleged data leak matters — can be found here. The easiest explanation though, was provided 13 years ago — Scott McNealy's "You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it". Visionary advice, indeed.

TAGS: Security, Government, Internet, Anonymous, Apple, RMR