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Government Agencies Spying on iOS and Android Users, According to U.S. Senator

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is concerned that foreign government agencies are using iOS and Android push notifications to spy on smartphone users. He has written a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) urging them to allow Apple and Google to inform the public about demands for smartphone app notification records.

A push notification is a notification sent to your phone from an app installed on the device. These notifications must go through a “digital post office” run by Apple and Google for iOS and Android respectively. Senator Wyden believes that the U.S. government has prohibited these companies from publicly discussing the surveillance by foreign governments.

He is worried that foreign government agencies could force Apple and Google to turn over information about how individual smartphone users interact with certain apps, including the complete text and unencrypted content of notifications. Wyden wants the DOJ to allow these companies to be completely transparent about the demands they receive from foreign governments for information from push notifications.

Both Apple and Google appreciated Senator Wyden’s letter and acknowledged that push notification surveillance has been ongoing. Apple stated that it would start sharing information about government requests for push notification data with its users. Similarly, Google’s transparency report already posts government requests for push notification data.

Both companies agreed with Senator Wyden’s commitment to keeping users informed about these requests.

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