Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

Summary: As pointed out recently by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a new logging feature introduced into AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) raises many privacy concerns. However, Mac users may not be aware that iChat uses the AIM service.

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As pointed out recently by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a new logging feature introduced into AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) raises many privacy concerns. However, Mac users may not be aware that iChat uses the AIM service.

Several sites pointed out implications for Mac users, including Macworld's Business Center and Intego's Mac Security Blog.

Dan Miller at Macworld said he had downloaded the preview version of AOL's new AIM client software, which will handle AIM messages as well as Facebook and Twitter messages. He closed the application and went back to iChat, his usual messaging client. "That's when the weird stuff started happening:...," he wrote. Suddenly, his iChat chats sported a warning that links and such would be logged.

Now, remember, that conversation was happening in iChat, not the in new AIM client. Yet AOL was still injecting that message into chats happening via my AIM account. And it happened anytime I tried chatting with anyone, or they with me, via that account. Even after I deleted every vestige of the AIM client that I could find on my system, the messages persisted.

The Mac Security Blog warns that AIM will log chats up to two months, but who knows, it could be longer.

Another element of the new AIM is that the program scans all URLs in chats, in order to attempt to embed photos or videos in chat windows. Even if these links don’t lead to photos or videos, they are scanned and stored in logs. Yet this, too, cannot be turned off. The EFF says that, “it does not look like there will be a way to permanently opt out of the link downloading behavior.” It addition, “Since conversations can only be marked “off the record” from inside the new AIM, users of older versions or alternate clients will always be prone to having some of the links they send scraped, even though they won’t see them rendered.”

Alarming. Perhaps it's time for Apple to switch to another service provider? Or get into the messaging business?

Topics: Apple, Browser, Collaboration, Hardware, Social Enterprise

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8 comments
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  • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

    Unless I'm going to participate in a revolution or engage in explicit sexual chats, should I be concerned? I ask that question in all sincerity. I really don't care if someone logs my rather boring chats with my friends and family. It's their life that they are wasting by monitoring those activities.

    I'm reminded of my corporate experience that reinforced the concept that all, ALL online correspondance is recorded and that nothing transmitted over corporate email or AIM clients was private. This is almost the same thing.
    kenosha77a
    • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

      Apple should merge iMessage with FaceTime to develop it's own iChat.
      Masari.Jones
      • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

        @Masari.Jones

        iFace :)
        gribittmep
  • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

    I abandoned specific clients a long time ago, as people use too many things for IM. I'm rather happy just having unified chat via Trillian.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

      @CobraA1 The thing about Trillian is it can also use the AIM network. If you use Trillian to contact someone over the AIM network your chat could be logged also the same way iChat can be logged!
      NZJester
  • Another privacy issue...

    With all AIM programs including the new one, IM conversations are send over the network without any encryption. That means you should not use it for business. Many businesses these days record all employee internet activity. Your IM conversations would be in the enterprise IT logs.
    davek9392
  • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

    davek said: > With all AIM programs including the new one, IM conversations are send over the network without any encryption. <

    That is exactly true, and this article is just more ZDNET anti-Apple FUD. Who exactly thought that chat were private? It can be intercepted any number of ways, just like email.
    comp_indiana
  • RE: Mac users of iChat messaging could be burned by new AIM logging

    if you use your AIM account in iChat it is subjet to anything a regular AIM account would do. If you use Jabber, MSN, or an Apple ID, it should get the same warning (at least I haven't seen any such messages, and have not created an AIM account)
    bdmarsh