Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed on Monday that the company has been helping the U.K. government investigate terror attacks in the country, despite being criticized by officials for its steadfast support of digital services that use end-to-end encryption.

tim cook theresa may

"We have been cooperating with the U.K. government not only in law enforcement kind of matters but on some of the attacks," Cook said during a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday. "I cannot speak on detail on that. But in cases when we have information and they have gone through the lawful process we don't just give it but we do it very promptly."

Cook went on to suggest that rather than breaking encryption and risking the security of millions of users' private data, technology companies could provide police with metadata – revealing when, where, and who sent and received messages, but not their content – which could be extremely helpful in criminal investigations. "Metadata, if you're putting together a profile, is very important,” said Cook.

The comments follow a third attack in as many months in the U.K., which has reignited the debate surrounding online surveillance in the country. The current Conservative government is demanding new powers that would force technology companies to compromise encryption protocols.

In the wake of Saturday's terrorist attack at London Bridge, Prime Minister Theresa May again called for new laws to regulate the internet, demanding that internet companies do more to remove places online where terrorists can communicate. "We cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed," she said. "Yet that is precisely what the internet and the big companies that provide internet-based services provide."

Recently the U.K. government passed a bill that could theoretically mean companies are legally bound to do comply with such requests, although the practicalities of such a law have been repeatedly questioned by security experts. Apple's privacy and encryption policy has also been criticized by U.S. law enforcement officials and the company publicly clashed last year in court with the FBI over the issue.

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Top Rated Comments

Garrod Avatar
70 months ago
The current UK Government with their ideas and laws to 'stop terrorists' via the internet (generalisation, of course) makes no sense - they will always find a way. It's a bit like Trump's wall idea...has he never heard of tunnels?!

Ridiculous.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Born Again Avatar
70 months ago
Don't let fear lead to the loss of our freedom like bush did to us after 9/11 with the patriot act. No doubt that idiot in the White House has similar agenda to infringe on our privacy.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RichTF Avatar
70 months ago
Shameful power-grab by my country's government, and such wilful ignorance of how encryption works.

Hopefully things change after Thursday…

That said, it's good to see Tim cooperating to help trace the attackers and their network. Which just goes to show how pointless these draconian laws are, at least for their stated purpose.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
70 months ago
Maybe the UK should stop letting so many problem people into their country? Europe in general has rolled out the red carpet over the last 10 years or whatever for these animals. Its like.... STOP letting them in. ya know?
Perhaps while we are at it we can send all the violent gun offenders from the US back to their families' countries of origin as well then. I'm sure the US would be better off if we hasn't rolled out the red carpet for all those violent problem Europeans and such. :rolleyes:
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Porco Avatar
70 months ago
Personally I don't honestly care if a government gets to read my encrypted emails (Proton) or messages (WhatsApp). It's the likes of Google and pervasive advertising I want to eliminate. Furthermore, and this isn't going to be fashionable to say on here but; how would you feel about this matter the day you have to identify the dismembered remains of your child? No need to answer now, but if it ever happens, you can send me an encrypted email describing what it was like on the day you went to the mortuary when they pulled the white sheet back.........
I believe breaking encryption makes us all less safe, not more safe. It's not a question of either being safer OR having good, strong encryption - the two go together.

Get back to me when you have figured out a perfect way to select only the bad people to whom mathematics and the physical laws of the universe won't apply.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Eraserhead Avatar
70 months ago
Maybe the UK should stop letting so many problem people into their country? Europe in general has rolled out the red carpet over the last 10 years or whatever for these animals. Its like.... STOP letting them in. ya know?
The terrorists are mostly second or third generation...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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