Apple slams UK surveillance-bill plans

The government wants to change the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (IPA).

It wants messaging services to check with the Home Office about security features before putting them in the hands of customers.

The act lets the Home Office tell people to turn off protection features without telling the public. Under the new version, this would have to happen right away.

Before taking any action, there needs to be a review, there can be an independent inspection process, and a tech company can make a case.

Because these requests are kept secret, not much is known about how many have been made and whether or not they have been met.

But many messaging services now offer end-to-end encryption, which means that only the devices sending and getting messages can figure out what they say.

“The Spy’s Charter”

WhatsApp and Signal are two of the services that have fought against a part of the Online Safety Bill that would let the communications regulator force companies to install technology to scan private messaging apps and other services for material that could be used to abuse children.

They say they won’t do it, and Signal has said it will “walk” out of the UK.

Apple has also been against the idea.

The government has started an eight-week consultation on planned changes to the IPA, which already lets internet browsing records be kept for a year and allows the collection of large amounts of personal data.

“They are not about making new powers,” the act says. Instead, they are about making the act more relevant to the technology of today.

Apple has always been against the act, which critics called a “snooper’s charter” at first. Its response to the current survey is nine pages long and says that it is against:

having to tell the Home Office about any changes to security features before they are released. Having non-UK-based companies comply with changes that would affect their product worldwide, such as providing a backdoor to end-to-end encryption. Taking action right away if the Home Office tells them to disable or block a feature, instead of waiting until the demand has been reviewed or appealed.

It wouldn’t change security features just for one country if that would make the product less safe for everyone.
Some changes could not be made in secret because they would need a software update.
The plans “constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy” that would affect people outside the UK.
Prof. Alan Woodward from Surrey University, who is an expert on cyber security, said that technology companies were unlikely to accept the suggestions.

“The government is arrogant and doesn’t know much if they think some of the bigger tech companies will follow the new rules without putting up a big fight,” he said.

The Investigatory Powers Act was made to “protect the public from criminals, child sex abusers, and terrorists,” according to the Home Office.

It also said, “We make sure all laws are as strong as they can be, and this consultation is part of that process. No decisions have been made yet.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *