Question about company-issued iPhone and text messages.

Couple of basic questions. First is, to what degree does the company have to see messages sent to or from an employee? If it matters, I’m talking about a 100-person organization that is not in the tech field. I mention that because the company probably has a small amount of tech savvy.

Also, IF the the company does have some ability to see a particular messages, does that ability end if—and the message is deleted?

If it helps, the issue is the a friend of mine who is separated is starting to get involved with another man. But the person she is currently separated from (and will be divorcing) is personal friends with the owner of the company, and she afraid that her “ex” might be able to ask the owner for some dirt to be used in the divorce proceedings, which are likely to be very contentious.


Depends, I assume, on who owns the phone to start with. The employer has no claim on your personal phone. An employer has zero rights to your own phone.

If it is a company issued phone, presumably the employer has the right to ask for it back at any time, and can then read your stuff. If it is locked, you have the option of unlocking it or not depending on what discipline the employer may take if you refuse. Or… you wipe it before handing it back - not sure if a wipe makes the data unrecoverable.

the following suggest it is sometimes possible to undelete messages or ask your phone company to restore texts, if they keep copies. I know that police will occasionally get warrants to read text messages, but a private employer - not if that is not their phone and account. I’m sure you can ask your phone company.
There was an article about iPhone messages a year or two ago - if the text goes between iPhone users, it uses apple’s servers and the iCloud, not the phone company text messaging. This may be encrypted. Again, unless the employer owns the account and knows the password (how was your Apple account set up?)

If your iphone was backed up, the data as of the backup is accessible from the computer it was backed up to.

I would suggest she lock the phone, change any account passwords, and look at how to wipe it if necessary.

I do know that the employer does not know the passwords to the iCloud accounts. But the phone is on their “account” with Verizon, in that I think they can see what numbers have been called. Don’t know if texts generate a similar log. Do you?

I believe that police have been able to subpoena messages from the phone company without having them on the actual phone. I believe that they did this with the former mayor of Detroit. If the company owns the phone I don’t see a reason why the phone company would refuse them a list of text messages.

In my company manual it is right there in black and white. For company phones, we own the phones and all messages, photos, and content therein.

Also in the manual for all computers it says the same and I have the software installed that intercepts and archives it all.

But can the owner see the information without a court order? Also, I thought once a message was deleted, that was the end of it, unless the user with the iCloud account tries to retrieve the deleted messages via back-up or one of the other methods discussed in md2000’s link. No?

But how can that be? Take photos, for instance…people have lots of photos that they might have deleted from their phones that still reside in their iCloud account. As an employer, do you have ANY access to someone’s content on iCloud, even if some of it was originally generated via your phone? I can certainly see you laying claim to content that resides on the phone, but is there a claim after that. And again, what of deleted content?

On the company phones they are using our accounts, not theirs.

Sorry, but maybe I am missing something. Why wouldn’t she just use her OWN phone for these messages? Do people actually send personal stuff with company issued phones?

I’m pretty sure that the owner of the phone (i.e. company) can, even if they have to pay a fee, ask the phone company for copies of their own records if they are available. I can go in and see every number I’ve called or texted in the last six months, that information enough is pretty useful. Most companies would just call you out on something else and then threaten to have the text messages recieved. Saying like “you called and texted this number excessively and we find it to be a non-work related number, please explain”. The conversation would go down hill from there for the employee.

In short, your friend is most likely screwed.

Well, there are really two accounts, right? One for one’s apple stuff, iTunes, iCloud, etc., and another for the provider, like Verizon. So, if the relationship with her company for her phone is 1) they purchased it and 2) they pay the monthly bill, the company would have access to Verizon info, but not Apple info, right. What I don’t know is if Verizon has any record of the actual texts from one iPhone to another. I don’t think that is that case. Another question is, are text messages from an iPhone (using the native Apple app) super encrypted, like the stuff Tim Cook was discussing on 60 Minutes last night?

One of the perks when she got hired was that they provide her with a phone, so she would no longer have that monthly expense. So, its the only phone she has.

Good point. The log of numbers called alone could cause her problems. But the more I think about it, I don’t think her provider can see the texts. I may just ask Verizon that. And even of they can, I think that once they are deleted, they are gone. I seem to recall that going from iPhone to iPhone adds some additional level of security, as well.

Check this out concerning my previous link to the Detroit mayor’s scandal. The answer is, it depends on how the company set up the message server. Although fairly old it most likely is still accurate, the company can if they want set there phones anyway they want.

Your friend has a bigger problem in that her ex may be able to get that information as part of the discovery process in the divorce. Also since the phone is the employer’s, she may not have any privacy rights depending on what is in the paperwork she signed.