We have all wondered at some point: Is someone listening in on our phone calls? Does someone keep track of all our calling data? And if so, what do they use that information for?
Monitoring phone calls has always spooked conspiracy theorists, especially in the digital age, when pretty much every kilobyte of data seems to be documented somewhere.
Now there may be substance to those fears. The digital forensics firm Elcomsoft claims that Apple is collecting data from iPhones, including phone numbers, dates and times of calls, and duration. Customers have no idea this is happening.
The Russian firm explained that data is automatically transmitted to Apple when iPhones are connected to the Cloud service. The tech giant allegedly keeps call histories for up to four months. FaceTime calls are also recorded in the Apple database.
Collecting call logs has been standard practice for telecommunications companies for years. These histories are especially vital for law enforcement, to develop chronologies of a crime and test the credibility of a witness. But Apple is not a telecom company, and many customers may be surprised to know that the iPhone manufacturer harvests this kind of information.
An Apple representative confirmed that cell data is collected through the Cloud, and that this type of data-sharing is helpful for customers who want to access call logs on multiple devices.
Many iPhone users already suspected something was wrong, especially when two customers shared an Apple ID and were receiving each other’s calling data on their separate iPhones.
Apple’s policies have become controversial as more and more customer information is exported to the Cloud. Critics assert that iCloud is vulnerable to hacking and even a company like Elcomsoft sells software that can break into Cloud-based data without the owner even realizing it. Indeed, Elcomsoft software was used to steal nude photos from numerous celebrities in 2014.
The discovery also follows reports that the data from 700 million smartphone users was being sent to China. Although these phones were not Apple products, legions of startled callers are now on high alert.
Apple has given no indication that it will change its policy or make the data-sharing possible.