Timothy D. Cook
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, California 95014
Dear Mr. Cook:
We are writing you as a consortium of concerned service providers, enterprises and regulatory organizations who have seen the explosive growth of iPhones and other iOS-powered devices both in the consumer market and now in the enterprise market.
Naturally, you are aware of the ubiquity of messaging on mobile devices which has increased dramatically over the past few years. Indeed, as of earlier this year, comScore was reporting that 75.9% of US mobile subscribers used SMS messaging on their mobile devices.
You may or may not be aware, however, that there are various rules and regulations in the United States today that require the capture and archiving of electronic communications that are used for business purposes. In the Financial Services industry, U.S. SEC Rule 17a-4 mandates that securities brokers, dealers and members of national securities exchanges maintain records of their transactions and business dealings for a minimum of six years. FINRA further requires that its members implement supervisory review procedures for all correspondence of their registered representatives pertaining to the solicitation and execution of all securities transactions, which includes all forms of electronic communications. The FDA has guidelines to help assure that promotional materials used by such firms, as well as electronic communications between representatives of such firms and doctors & healthcare professionals, are accurate, fairly balanced, and limited to information that has been approved by the FDA as well as other standards. In all of the above cases, “electronic communications” have been deemed to include SMS messaging.
As a result of these rules, and the fact that SMS messaging has to date generally not been able to be captured and archived, many companies and institutions have either instituted a policy forbidding the use of text messaging (except for internal instant messaging systems) and/or have disabled messaging on their company phones.
And regulated industries are only the beginning – companies from all kinds of unregulated industries are interested in message capture and archive for a variety of reasons. Ever since the Deepwater Horizon blowout, companies in the oil & gas industry have been learning how to capture and archive mobile messaging and mobile voice calls from their employees and subcontractors on oil drilling sites to ensure they have complete records of all communications between relevant parties going forward. Construction engineering firms that have had on-site disputes between contractors and subcontractors about changing specifications at a construction site have been inquiring about such a service. Commercial real estate firms want to track the communications of their property management, marketing, leasing and development professionals in the field. Consumer products companies want to keep track of their sales reps in the field. The list goes on.
In any event, over the past several years, several of the smartphone platforms began to enable SMS capture. RIM, for example, has enabled SMS logging on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and directly from the device itself for several years. The Android platform also enables SMS “listener” applications which monitor the activity on the native SMS client. The Windows Mobile platform does the same.
Apple, however, does not. Your company has actually restricted access to the SMS logs, which is the part of the device that is necessary to monitor SMS activity to and from the device. Various of us at various times have requested such access, and we have received responses indicating that Apple is not interested in making such access available.
At this time, we hereby ask you once again, from all of us signed on to this letter… PLEASE allow access to the SMS logs so that we can capture and archive our messages and start using messaging again in our business environments. Without this, we will continue to be unable to utilize one of the most tried and true, ubiquitous forms of communication in our professional lives. It just doesn’t seem right.