Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden won’t use an Apple iPhone because he says it has “special software” that can be activated remotely, allowing the government to spy on its user.
“Edward never uses an iPhone; he’s got a simple phone,” Anatoly Kucherena, Snowden’s attorney, said in an interview with RIA Novosti, a Russian media company, reports Tech Times.
Kucherena told the publication that 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.”
It wasn’t made clear whether Snowden, who fled the United States and ended up in Russia after leaking sensitive intelligence documents from the NSA, believes intelligence agencies have a way of compromising the iPhone’s operating system, or if the software comes from standard diagnostic tools.
Apple has denied claims that it participated in the NSA’s PRISM data mining project, after accusations were made when Snowden released the NSA documents that its devices are vulnerable to spying.
The leaked documents revealed that the NSA operates an iPhone backdoor surveillance program that allows officials to snoop through virtually any communication sent or received using an Apple product.
The PRISM project involved gathering materials including audio, video, pictures, documents, emails, and connection logs from mobile devices, which allowed analysts to track the device users’ movements and communications.
Apple said it does not allow government agencies to have direct access to its servers.. However, further NSA leaks showed how the agency developed spyware to target iPhones, allowing information to be gathered from devices, and Apple denied further being involved in the spyware development.
Further, with the latest operating system, iOS 8, Apple says it is not even able to decrypt messages itself that come through its devices, as it values its emphasis on user security.