If you’ve ever wondered what the whistleblower of the largest government surveillance apparatus in the world would choose for his handheld, you can cross Apple’s wildly popular smartphone off the list of possibilities.
According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple’s infamous iPhone has a remarkably well-kept secret in the form of “special software” designed to collect and transmit sensitive data about users, without their knowledge.
While speaking with Russian news outlet RIA Novosti during a recent interview, Snowden’s Russian lawyer Anatoly Kucherena said the former intelligence contractor specifically avoids Apple, and prefers a simpler device.
“Edward never uses an iPhone; he’s got a simple phone,” Kucherena said, according to 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 claim sounds similar to one made by hacker and forensics researcher Jonathan Zdziarski last year about backdoors in iPhones, which fail to encrypt and secure data when the phone is unlocked. Though Zdziarski did not accuse Apple of working directly with the government, he said it was possible the vulnerability had been exploited by NSA.
Recently published documents leaked by Snowden from the Government Communications Headquarters — Britain’s NSA equivalent — also show the agency has used iPhone unique device identifier numbers to track users in the past.