Apple has attacked proposals for the UK government to pre-approve new security features introduced by tech firms, reports the BBC.
Under the proposed amendments to existing laws, if the UK Home Office declined an update, it then couldn’t be released in any other country, and the public would not be informed. The government is seeking to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016.
The Home Office said it supported privacy-focused tech but added that it also had to keep the country safe, according to the BBC. The proposed changes will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow. Apple says it is an “unprecedented overreach” by the UK government.
“We’re deeply concerned the proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) now before Parliament place users’ privacy and security at risk,” the tech giant said in a statement. “It’s an unprecedented overreach by the government and, if enacted, the UK could attempt to secretly veto new user protections globally preventing us from ever offering them to customers.”
Apple and the UK government have an ongoing tense relationship regarding the IPA proposals The Investigatory Powers Act is an Act of the UK Parliament passed in 2016. It comprehensively sets out and in limited respects expands the electronic surveillance powers of the British intelligence agencies and police.It also claims to improve the safeguards on the exercise of those powers
Apple has consistently opposed the act. Its submission to the current consultation is nine pages long, opposing:
- Having to tell the Home Office of any changes to product security features before they are released
- The requirement for non-UK-based companies to comply with changes that would affect their product globally – such as providing a backdoor to end-to-end encryption
- Having to take action immediately if a notice to disable or block a feature is received from the Home Office, rather than waiting until after the demand has been reviewed or appealed against
- It would not make changes to security features specifically for one country that would weaken a product for all users.
- Some changes would require issuing a software update so could not be made secretly
- The proposals “constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy” that would affect people outside the UK.