Apple Criticizes Proposed UK Expanded-Surveillance Law

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

“The fact is to comply with the Government’s proposal, the personal data of millions of law-abiding citizens would be less secure.”.

Apple Inc. outlined its opposition to a proposed U.K. surveillance law, saying threats to national security don’t justify weakening privacy and putting the data of hundreds of millions of users at risk. The tech giant claims that the proposed new law, which purports to help British authorities fight terrorism, would weaken the security of “hundreds of millions” of people who use Apple’s iMessage and Facetime communications platforms. “The bill threatens to hurt law-abiding citizens in its effort to combat the few bad actors who have a variety of ways to carry out their attacks,” said Apple’s submission. “The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers.In its first specific response to the Investigatory Powers Bill – the so-called “Snoopers’ Charter”, the US technology giant says “this bill will put law-abiding citizens at risk – not the criminals, hackers and terrorists.Millions of innocent consumers will be put at risk by the so-called Snooper’s Charter, while terrorists and hackers will continue to operate unhindered, Apple has claimed.

The bad guys would find it too.” British Prime Minister David Cameron has been a keen proponent of the parliamentary bill, arguing that it is necessary to intercept and prevent terrorist attacks. “Do we want to allow a means of communication between two people which even in extremis with a signed warrant from the home secretary personally that we cannot read?” he said in a parliamentary debate on the issue earlier this year. Apple – along with other technology companies – has long been a vocal critic of any attempts to weaken encryption by building ‘back doors’ for use by the security services. It told the committee that passages in the bill could give the government the power to demand Apple alters the way its messaging service, iMessage, works. The Cupertino, California-based company is particularly concerned the bill would weaken digital privacy tools such as encryption, creating vulnerabilities that will be exploited by sophisticated hackers and government spy agencies. And recent history is littered with cases of attackers successfully implementing exploits that nearly all experts either remained unaware of or viewed as merely theoretical.” “This would immobilise substantial portions of the tech sector and spark serious international conflicts.

The company’s chief executive Tim Cook made it clear in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph last month that: “We don’t think people want us to read their messages. It would also likely be the catalyst for other countries to enact similar laws, paralysing multinational corporations under the weight of what could be dozens or hundreds of contradictory country-specific laws.” “Those businesses affected will have to cope with a set of overlapping foreign and domestic laws. However, technology firms fear that key differences in the language used in the legislation widen the scope of the powers considerably when compared to Ripa, which only affected traditional internet service providers. When these laws inevitably conflict, the businesses will be left having to arbitrate between them, knowing that in doing so they might risk sanctions.

The end-to-end encryption used by Apple and others prevents anyone but the recipient from seeing a message — it’s so strong that even Apple can’t intercept the message. That is an unreasonable position to be placed in.” “If the UK asserts jurisdiction over Irish or American businesses, other states will too,” the company said in its submission. “We know that the IP bill process is being watched closely by other countries.” “For the consumer in, say, Germany, this might represent hacking of their data by an Irish business on behalf of the UK state under a bulk warrant – activity which the provider is not even allowed to confirm or deny.

Apple is also concerned that the law reaches beyond UK borders, requiring any overseas company with British consumers to comply, even if their home countries have conflicting laws, as the United States currently does. He said that many of Europe’s instincts on privacy align more closely to his own than other jurisdictions. “I think Europe is leading the world on that topic and it’s great,” he said. “I feel right at home when I come to Europe and talk about privacy.” Matthew Hare, the chief executive of ISP Gigaclear, said: “On a typical 1 gigabit connection we see over 15TB of data per year passing over that connection … If you say that a proportion of that is going to be the communications data, it’s going to be the most massive amount of data that you’d be expected to keep in the future.

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