The DEA Cannot Intercept iMessages

Posted Apr 4, 2013

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has the ability to intercept many forms of communication with ease, but their Achilles heel is Apple iMessage.  The U.S. DEA cannot penetrate instant messages sent back-and-forth between Apple iMessage according to a D.E.A. intelligence note noticed by CNET.  The note specifically mentions that they cannot intercept messages using traditional trap-and-trace devices, pen register devices, or wiretapping data collection using “Title III interceptions.”

Apple iMessage launched this past 2011. The service made it possible for iOS users to communicate through iPhones, iPods, and iPads without having to burn through text message plans.  The messages are encrypted between the two communicating devices and cannot be traced through the carrier.

The DEA noticed their issues with iMessage in February 2013 when the San Jose Resident Office was not able to capture all of the messages that were sent from a criminal.  “The significance of the iMessage transmission is investigators may erroneously believe they have a complete record of text transmissions if they are unaware that iMessage communications between smartphones are not captured of provided by the cell phone service providers,” said the DEA in the intelligence note.