Apple Criticizes Proposed UK 'Investigatory Powers' Surveillance Bill

Apple LogoApple today spoke out against the UK's proposed Investigatory Powers bill, expressing concern that it would "weaken security" for millions of law-abiding customers, reports The Guardian. Apple added that in a "rapidly-evolving cyber-threat environment," technology companies should be allowed to "implement strong encryption to protect customers.

Introduced last month by UK home secretary Theresa May, the Investigatory Powers bill allows for the bulk collection of website records by law enforcement agencies. It requires web and phone companies to store records of websites visited by every UK citizen for 12 months, and it has provisions that would require technology companies to build in backdoors or help bypass encryption on devices to allow access to information.

Apple and other technology companies believe the implementation of such a bill could inspire other countries to adopt similar measures. In a letter written to the parliamentary committee looking over the bill, Apple expressed concern about the scope of the bill and asked for changes to be made before it's passed. In its current incarnation, Apple worries the bill could give the UK government enough power to demand changes to the way iMessage works, ending the encryption that makes it inaccessible even to Apple.
"The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers. A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too."
Apple went on to say the legislation could cause businesses to have to deal with a set of "overlapping foreign and domestic laws" that will "inevitably conflict" and lead to the risk of sanctions. UK agencies could, for example, ask for information stored in data centers in other countries, infringing on that country's data protection laws. "That is an unreasonable position to be placed in," Apple wrote.

Other technology companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo, also plan to submit evidence to the parliamentary committee in the hope of getting the proposed bill changed.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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10 months ago

Err, RIPA keeps us safe Mr Cook. Its capabilities allow us to keep track of threats.

Not all of us have the privilege to be wet-behind-the-ears West Coast liberals.


However, we all have the right to be innocent until proven guilty and not have our private communication spied on without probable course and a properly signed warrant. That warrant should be signed by a judge too, not a politician.

This whole anti encryption drive by governments is utterly self defeating also. Apart from the fact you can't have a back door that only the good guys can use, encryption isn't an app, it's maths. If you allow back door access to iMessage or Facebook messenger etc, the bad guys will simply use their own apps to communicate.
Rating: 37 Votes
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10 months ago

Err, RIPA keeps us safe Mr Cook. Its capabilities allow us to keep track of threats.

Not all of us have the privilege to be wet-behind-the-ears West Coast liberals.


I see the propaganda has been having its intended effect.
Rating: 35 Votes
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10 months ago
I'm glad Apple understands exactly what building these backdoors and creating mass databases will ultimately do. I'm proud to continue buying from a company that can get behind the privacy rights of their customers even when it is not politically expedient to do so.
Rating: 31 Votes
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10 months ago

Err, RIPA keeps us safe Mr Cook. Its capabilities allow us to keep track of threats.

Not all of us have the privilege to be wet-behind-the-ears West Coast liberals.


Online fraud is *much* more of an issue than terrorism - and it costs us £75 billion a year.

You can't have safe encryption and still keep it unsafe for terrorists, it's not mathematically possible.
Rating: 23 Votes
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10 months ago
Apple is rightfully upset.

England ... birthplace of 1984.
Rating: 19 Votes
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10 months ago
This is not for the greater good of the people. It's for the good of the people's governments. Which is pure ********. Hiding under the veil of "security against terrorism and the like" is garbage. If I know something has a back door and is being monitored, I will use something else that isn't susceptible to such attacks and snooping.

This **** needs to stop and I sincerely hope the tech companies DO NOT FOLD and tell the governments to **** right on off.
Rating: 17 Votes
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10 months ago

Err, RIPA keeps us safe Mr Cook. Its capabilities allow us to keep track of threats.

Not all of us have the privilege to be wet-behind-the-ears West Coast liberals.


RIPA, that's the one that was only supposed to affect people involved in serious criminal activity, yet has been used countless times over things such as dog fouling, and checking if people live in the correct school catchment area?

That's the problem with these things, perhaps people wouldn't mind if they were used responsibly and correctly targeted at serious criminals, but people lose faith when it's used because you didn't clean up after your dog took a dump on the street.

Time and time again government and law enforcement have proven they can't use their powers responsibly, so the people no longer want them to have the ability to do something they know will be abused.
Rating: 16 Votes
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10 months ago
I am embarrassed and perturbed by the government of my country's current position on this. I don't really know what is more disturbing - that they actually understand what they seem to be saying they want to do despite its insanity, or that they don't know what they want to do but are pressing ahead with it anyway regardless of their ignorance.

Remember, when the US found Bin Laden we were told he couriered information on USB thumb drives. If what the UK government says it wants to do happens, it doesn't make anyone safer from terrorists or criminals, it just makes using the internet less safe for all the law-abiding citizens (and not just in the UK, because the internet is global, and no matter how much people curtailed their online activities it is so interweaved into our society these days it is not feasible for some people to rip it out of their lives overnight just because it's not as secure anymore). It's like a more serious example of the flawed logic of DRM (Digital Rights Management) that never hampers determined pirates who will get round it, only legitimate customers who play the rules, however the insane the rules imposed upon them are.

You either have strong, working encryption or you don't. What the UK government seem to want is the equivalent of being a bit dead, or slightly pregnant - to have their cake and to eat it too.
Rating: 16 Votes
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10 months ago

Should the issue of ending encryption on iMessage or creating backdoors ever fully arise, Apple should just refuse to comply. Most MPs in Parliament use their products daily. The House of Commons is full of iPhones and iPads. See what happens if they fail to comply.


Or even better, disable iMessage completely in the UK and force SMS only. Then make sure that the press lets UK citizens know why the change was made. No better way to change a politicians mind quickly than to anger all of there constituents at once.
Rating: 13 Votes
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10 months ago

Apple is rightfully upset.

England ... birthplace of 1984.


England ... 1984 realized.
Rating: 11 Votes
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