Apple has written to MPs to raise concerns about the draft Investigatory Powers Bill, dubbed the snooper’s charter by its opponents. The bill could lead to authorised mass collection of data, as well as forcing companies to hack its own messaging products to provide information to the secret services.
In a written submission to a parliamentary committee, Apple said, “We believe it would be wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat.
“In this rapidly evolving cyber-threat environment, companies should remain free to implement strong encryption to protect customers.”
Apple’s iMessage service uses end–to–end encryption, meaning it cannot read the content of messages sent between users. Plans for the new law, brought before MPs earlier this year by Home Secretary Theresa May, would force Apple to hand over information on users the authorities suspected of terrorism offences, via a so–called backdoor.
Apple has been a vociferous campaigner against breaches of privacy. In a calculated swipe at its rival Google, it said earlier this year it had no interest in reading or accessing iPhone users’ messages or email.
“The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers. A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too,” Apple added.
Apple also says it is worried it could be forced to secretly hack into users’ iPhones, something which whistle blower Edward Snowden claims is already done by western governments.
The UK government says it is merely enshrining current practices in statute and that it has a duty to protect its citizens. But increasing opposition from major companies such as Apple is likely to play a role in the bill’s implementation.
Some critics have suggested Apple could stop selling its iPhone and iPad lineup in the UK if it is forced to comply, hitting the UK’s booming tech economy.