Apple confirms that governments were using push notification statistics to surveil users

After a letter to DOJ by senator Ron Wyden Apple confirmed that governments were requesting push notification data to surveil users.

"In this case, the federal government prohibited us from sharing any information," the company said in a statement. "Now that this method has become public we are updating our transparency reporting to detail these kinds of requests."


Push notification statistics was used to match Apple ID with patterns of notifications for specific apps (for example, messaging apps). If app uses end-to-end encryption, contents of the messages could not be read by governments, but it is still possible to identify specific users by usage patterns.

Both Apple and Google were providing this data to governments.


China bans iPhones for government use

iPhone and other foreign technology devices are now banned for use by Chinese government employees. As of now it is not known if this ban is actually enforced, but there are reports that employees are recommended to switch to local smartphone brands.

More agencies and state affiliated companies are expected to have similar bans soon.

There are varying reports on how much this ban might affect iPhone sales in China. Analysts predict sales drop from 500k (which has almost no impact) to 20M units.

The Wall Street Journal: China Bans iPhone Use for Government Officials at Work

Reuters: China moves to widen state employee iPhone curbs

Bloomberg: China Seeks to Broaden iPhone Ban to State Firms, Agencies