The Mexican email, and the agency's concern for the security of government communications, are just some of the indications that the NSA's focus on BlackBerry may not just be about the war on terrorism.
While BlackBerry devices are common in government and in corporate management, they are only the ninth-most-popular among users of extremist online forums, according to leaked NSA documents seen by Der Spiegel. The most popular phones in such circles are Nokia devices, with Apple iPhones in third place.
Der Spiegel also said that the NSA has in the past been able to obtain data from targets' Apple iPhones, although the methods detailed are unlikely to scare most users. The allegations concerned only iOS versions 3 and 4, and Der Spiegel said data was obtained principally by hacking a target's computer and downloading the backup copy of data such as photos and contacts synchronized with the iPhone. At one time this also allowed the NSA to obtain a log of locations visited by the iPhone in the seven days preceding the last data synchronization, but Apple ceased storing this log as of iOS version 4.3.3, Der Spiegel noted.
Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at firstname.lastname@example.org.