Ex-NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden does not trust Apple. In fact, Snowden believes that Apple has built spyware into all iPhones, and that the spyware can be remotely activated without the user’s permission or knowledge.
A former NSA contractor, Snowden became famous after leaking thousands of classified documents that he took while he was employed at the U.S. intelligence agency. Since the leaks first surfaced back in 2012, he has been charged with violations of the Espionage Act and theft of government property. Edward Snowden has been living in temporary asylum in Russia for over a year now.
This news alleging built-in spyware on iPhones is particularly ironic given that Apple has has recently undertaken a very public campaign to improve user privacy.
Statement from Edward Snowden’s lawyer
In a recent interview with Russian media, Snowden’s attorney Anatoly Kucherena noted that his client avoided the iPhone. “Edward never uses an iPhone; he’s got a simple phone,” Kucherena said. “The iPhone has special software that can activate itself without the owner having to press a button and gather information about him; that’s why on security grounds he refused to have this phone.”
Kucherena also pointed out in the interview that while Snowden is generally satisfied with life in Russia, he plans to seek permanent asylum in the European Union.
According to a recent article in the Independent, the NSA has documents that explain how British intelligence agency GCHQ has been using the iPhone’s unique identifier (UDID) in order to track certain individuals. Of note, the documents released to date do not specifically reference any spyware being built in the iPhone, but sources say they expect more leaked NSA documents to be published in the near future.