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Apple, Whatsapp pegged as potential source for encrypted communication app download information in Russia collusion probe

A leaked memo claims that should the Democrats claim the House in November, they will use subpoena power to compel Apple, Google, Amazon and others to divulge what apps that investigated individuals downloaded, and will pursue the app developers themselves for contents of messages.




The memo, obtained by The Intercept, says that a Democratic-led House, should it develop, would first find out what messaging apps were used by President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner during the campaign and transition.

According to the report, information sought from Apple is "including but not limited to SMS, iMessage, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Signal, Slack, Instagram, and Snapchat."

If it is ever issued, the subpoena may extend to Protonmail service as well —as The Intercept discovered staffer Ryan P. McAvoy's Protonmail address on a piece of White House memo paper near the building itself.

Kushner's attorney told The Intercept that his client has already answered all relevant questions, spanning "two different appearances before congressional committees."

In response to queries from both The Information and AppleInsider, Apple has referred to the company's law enforcement guidelines —which doesn't prohibit Apple from disclosing what apps a customer have purchased when presented with a subpoena. Apple notes that it does not retain user's Messages encryption keys, so any data it may have would be effectively useless.

It isn't clear what WhatsApp would be able to turn over, if anything. WhatsApp also doesn't retain delivered messages, and deletes undelivered messages after 30 days. However, the company notes that messages backed up in the cloud are specifically not encrypted.