The NSA whistleblower doesn’t use a phone because of the secret software, which Snowden’s lawyer says can be remotely activated to watch the user.
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“Edward never uses an iPhone, he’s got a simple phone,” Anatoly Kucherena told Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “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.”
Apple has been active in making the iPhone harder for security services to spy on, and the company said that iOS 8 made it impossible for law enforcement to extract users’ personal data, even if they have a warrant. The company has also been active in campaigning for privacy reform after the Snowden revelations, joining with Facebook and Google to call for changes to the law.
But recently published files from the NSA showed that British agency GCHQ used the phones UDIDs — the unique identifier that each iPhone has — to track users. While there doesn’t seem to be any mention of such spying software in any of the revelations so far, a range of documents are thought to be still unpublished.
Snowden opts not to use the phone for professional reasons, but Kucherena said that whether or not to use one was a personal choice, Sputnik News reported.