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Democrats looking to subpeana tech companies over private chats

They’re seeking information like downloads and chats.

The House of Representatives’ investigation into the Russian meddling in 2016 election may have come to and end, but Democrats eyeing some news targets, if and when they regain House majority, and could have significant repercussions for the tech industry.

In a recently published memo in the aftermath of the investigation, it calls for the House Intelligence Committee to subpoena Apple, WhatsApp and Twitter for information regarding encrypted chat apps and private messages. Democrats want answers about which apps were key in the 2016 US election, and what was said.

In terms of Apple, Democrats want records for downloaded secure chat apps for “key individuals,” which includes Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. For WhatsApp messages, they want information regarding communication between “key witnesses of interest.” Twitter on the other hand would be pressed to provide direct messages from Trump staff as well as Russian hacking front Guccifer 2.0, Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

The 2018 mid-term elections are important for Democrats because they need to win House majority in order to proceed with these requests. Intercept noted that this could put the involved companies in a tough spot. Apple retains download records and would have to give them over if they were ordered to, but since both Apple and WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption, they can’t crack them even if they wanted to. It’s also worth mentioning that WhatsApp doesn’t store messages. Investigators may have to settle for metadata like profiles, should these tech companies not be able to provide with sufficient information.

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Hamza Khalid

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