While one of the NYT’s sources insist that Apple only provided metadata, not photos or the contents of emails, it’s been well-established for years that metadata is data: you can learn a lot if you know where, when, and who a given person is talking to, particularly if you combine that with other insights. (An earlier NYT investigation showed that the amount of location data smartphones already reveal to data brokers is enough to identify someone personally.) Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Like the media outlets, Apple was under a gag order and unable to tell anyone until it expired this year — the only reason we’re learning about this now is because the new administration’s Justice Department decided to reveal the subpoenas and gag orders to the press. Metadata is powerful Last Saturday, the Justice Department promised it would no longer secretly subpeona records from journalists to root out leaks.
Update, June 10th, 11PM ET: Added confirmation that Swalwell was part of the probe.
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