Alexandra Elbakyan, the creator of controversial research trove Sci-Hub, has claimed that Apple informed her it has handed over information about her account to the FBI.
Elbakyan made the allegation in a week-old tweet that went unremarked-upon for longer than you’d imagine, given that Apple and the FBI have a history of conflict over whether the bureau should be allowed to peer into Apple customers’ devices.
received a few minutes ago to my GMail. at first I thought it was a spam and was about to delete the email, but it turned out to be about FBI requesting my data from Apple pic.twitter.com/rbWMLGtGcp— Alexandra Elbakyan (@ringo_ring) May 7, 2021
The Register has asked Apple whether it sends emails like the one depicted in Elbakyan’s tweet, and if the one depicted is genuine. The company has not responded at the time of writing.
Elbakyan is a known provocateur. Sci-Hub proclaims that its harvesting and publishing of scientific papers advances science more quickly than is possible when research is published by paywall-utilising journals.
But the site’s critics – among them the City of London Police – previously alleged that Sci-Hub is more interested in harvesting researchers’ credentials than open science.
A university officer tasked with facilitating data-sharing among faculty, and other institutions, has pointed out to The Register that credential harvesting creates the potential to access research that universities conduct for commercial or government clients, and that such research may be very useful to foreign governments or practitioners of corporate espionage.
Whatever the true nature of Sci-Hub’s activities, it is worth noting that the email Elbakyan posted mentions an Apple account – her iCloud account most likely ‒ not a device. It also mentions “information” without disclosing exactly what was sought, and what was offered.
You have NO privacy. Get over it or vote for a smaller government.— Scott McNealy (@scottmcnealy) May 8, 2021