Apple has accused the UK government of attempting to become the primary authority on data security and encryption levels globally, in response to proposed legal changes.
Furthermore, the company expressed concerns that if these proposals became law, it might be compelled to remove security features from the UK and potentially shut down services like FaceTime and iMessage in the country. The dispute centers around amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act, aimed at empowering the Home Office to force tech companies to modify their services for accessing communications data.
At the same time, Apple, along with civil society groups and other tech companies, has also criticized the Online Safety Bill, fearing it could jeopardize global privacy by undermining end-to-end encryption.
The proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act are distinct from the ongoing debates surrounding the Online Safety Bill. Apple’s response to the Home Office’s consultation emphasizes that the changes would allow the government to demand notification over security updates that could affect investigatory powers. Currently, the government can issue a secret notice to prohibit updates, which Apple can appeal.
However, the proposed amendment would compel Apple to comply with the government’s instruction even during the appeal process. The company argues that such provisions could force it to withdraw critical security features from the UK market, leaving users without essential protections.
Apple is adamant that it will never build a backdoor, leading the proposed changes to create an impossible situation for the company. The amended law would force Apple to choose between complying with a Home Office mandate to secretly introduce vulnerabilities into new security technologies, which it refuses to do, or foregoing the development of these technologies altogether, leaving users’ data security at risk.
The company highlights the potential dangers and impact on data security if it were to comply with such mandates. As the debate unfolds, the tech industry and civil society groups continue to express concerns about the potential consequences of the UK government’s proposed changes to encryption and data security regulations.