Former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, and leaker of thousands of pages of classified documents from the agency, Edward Snowden refuses to use an iPhone, due to the presence of “special software” that can be remotely activated by authorities to spy on users.
“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” Snowden’s lawyer said in a recent interview, as noted by Sputnik. “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.”
The lawyer didn’t specify if the “special software” Snowden feared was a diagnostic tool Apple had built into the device, or if he believes the NSA or another intelligence agency had compromised iOS.
Apple and other tech firms were accused of cooperating with the NSA and their PRISM data mining operation, following Snowden’s release of classified NSA documents. The PRISM project is said to involve the extraction and collection of “audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.”
Apple has denied the accusation, saying that they “have never heard of PRISM” and that they “do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers.”
In the wake of the PRISM investigation, Apple took steps to reassure its users, by publishing a statement on its website discussing their “Commitment to Customer Privacy,” and detailing requests it had received from the government for customer data.
Later it came out that the NSA had indeed created spyware specifically targeting iPhone users, which would gain access to users’ SMS messages, on-board data, live microphone feeds, and positioning information. Apple again denied involvement, and it’s not known how successful the initiative proved to be.