Apple speaks out against U.K.’s anti-encryption ‘snooper’s charter’

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iMessages are safer from the NSA. Photo: Apple
Services like iMessage could be affected by the U.K.'s Investigatory Powers Bill.
Photo: Apple

Apple has publicly criticized the U.K.’s draft Investigatory Powers Bill, a.k.a. the “snooper’s charter,” for fear that forcing companies to create backdoors in encryption services like iMessage could “hurt law-abiding citizens.”

“The government does not know in advance which individuals will become targets of investigation, so the encryption system necessarily would need to be compromised for everyone,” Apple wrote in a statement.

While the U.K. is only one market for Apple, the company fears that if it is forced to help the government spy on its citizens, other countries will demand that Apple helps them to do the same.

“In this rapidly evolving cyber-threat environment, companies should remain free to implement strong encryption to protect customers,” Apple continued.

The proposed bill, which could be pushed through by the end of 2016, means that companies like Apple would have to help unscramble end-to-end encrypted messages. It also legalizes the hacking of mobile phones, laptops, servers, routers, and other tech devices for the gathering of intelligence.

It is expected that Apple will be joined by other tech companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and Microsoft, who will publish their own responses for the joint committee currently scrutinizing the bill.

During Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose on Sunday’s “Inside Apple” episode of 60 Minutes, Apple’s CEO argued against backdoors, saying that, “If there’s a way to get in, then somebody will find the way in. There have been people that suggest that we should have a backdoor. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.”

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales recently said he would like to see Apple “refuse to sell iPhone in [the] U.K. if [the] government bans end-to-end encryption.”

While there’s no chance that will happen, it’s good to see Apple speak out in favor of a cause it so strongly believes in.

Source: Financial Times