Apple sent my data to the FBI, says boss of controversial research paper trove Sci-Hub

Former Sun boss Scott McNealy offers interesting response

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.

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.

The Register has also spotted an interesting response to Elbakyan’s claims, from former Sun CEO, data-harvester, Trump backer and occasional pro golf caddie Scott McNealy. ®

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