Apple Says U.K. Surveillance Law Would Endanger All Customers

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Says U.K. Surveillance Law Would Endanger All Customers.

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 world’s most valuable company is leading a Silicon Valley challenge to the proposed U.K. law, called the Investigatory Powers bill, which attempts to strengthen the capabilities of law-enforcement agencies to investigate potential crimes or terrorist attacks. Rather than protect well-meaning citizens, the bill will force tech firms to hack their own customers — and in the process break the laws of other countries, some of the companies said in filings Monday to a U.K. panel charged with reviewing the proposed legislation. The bill could also set a precedent for other governments and even repressive regimes to impose draconian requirements on tech firms concerning user data. Law enforcement agencies around the globe have stepped up their requests for greater authority in the weeks following a series of deadly terrorism attacks in Paris and San Bernardino in the United States.

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. Public officials have called for new ways to spy on terrorist groups and their communications, some of which is said to take place secretly on encrypted Internet messaging platforms. In response to the U.K. rules, other governments would probably adopt their own new laws, “paralyzing multinational corporations under the weight of what could be dozens or hundreds of contradictory country-specific laws,” Apple said. “The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers,” Apple said in an eight-page submission to the U.K. committee considering the bill. “A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys.

The U.S. technology companies have been strengthening use of encryption technology following revelations by National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden of government spying in 2013. 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. Apple CEO Tim Cook has become an outspoken advocate for strong encryption technology, saying it protects personal communication, as well as health, financial and business data, for the millions of people who use iPhones and other Apple products.

Government attempts to seize customer data stored outside of the United Kingdom should be subject to strict intergovernmental processes, according to some companies. Apple said it often cooperates with the U.K. government when information is sought by law enforcement, saying it “helps catch criminals and save lives.” Still, the company said that if it was required to weaken its encryption standards, criminals and terrorists would continue using other technology available in the market. “There are hundreds of products that use encryption to protect user data, many of them open-source and beyond the regulation of any one government,” Apple said. “By mandating weakened encryption in Apple products, this bill will put law-abiding citizens at risk, not the criminals, hackers and terrorists who will continue having access to encryption.”

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