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Hackers Claim FBI Has 12 Million Apple Device IDs

Publication Date: 
September 05, 2012
San Francisco Chronicle
James Temple

Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Center for Internet and Society, is quoted by James Temple in this San Francisco Chronicle article on whether data collected by private companies was passed onto the government.

A hacking collective on Monday released what it claims are more than one million unique device numbers for Apple products that it allegedly pulled from an FBI agent’s laptop.

AntiSec said it leaked the so called UDIDs to call attention to what it sees as evidence of the government agency collecting device details and potentially tracking the activity of citizens. In a post on Monday, the group claims the original file it downloaded included information about some 12 million devices, often including personal details like names, addresses and cellphone numbers.

"It is a piece of the puzzle that suggests the extent to which the government has moved beyond targeted surveillance in particular cases to massive surveillance of all Americans," said Jennifer Granick, director of civil liberties at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. "Someone in the government should launch an investigation into this practice and find out what purpose if any the collection of this data serves."


That raises the possibility that data collected by private companies was passed to the government, an act that can violate the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, under certain conditions, Granick said. That law, however, is notoriously vague and out of date, she added.


"It takes very little of this additional information to create a story about someone that can be very revealing, " Granick said. "It's the linchpin for creating this profile."