Apple Speaks Out Against UK's Investigatory Powers Bill

Apple, and many privacy advocates, might be facing a losing battle against governments pushing for a backdoor to encrypted devices and Internet services. The UK might be on the verge of passing a proposed Investigatory Powers Bill into law, which would require even non-UK companies like Apple to hand over keys to its otherwise well-protected products, even if such keys do not technically exist. If matters do take that turn, Apple will be forced to completely disable encryption on iPhones and iPads, iMessage, and FaceTime, which could have severe and adverse implications in more ways than one.

The UK isn't alone in this push. Its forever ally, the US, has also been making such moves but opposing voices are louder there, causing the matter to come to an impasse, at least for now. In the UK, the bill also has the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, which makes it almost likely to become law.

Apple's reasons for opposing any such law is manifold and has been repeated again and again in other venues. A security backdoor, by nature, will weaken the entire security system and will also give criminal elements access equally. While some might argue that there might be technical ways to protect the private data of the majority while still giving access to said data of a few, with a proper warrant, of course. The problem with this theory, says Apple, is that the government cannot know before hand who those "very few" will be, unless they've come up with a way to predict future crimes and criminals. Weakening security for even one means weakening it for all.

There's also a technical hindrance to providing a backdoor. Simply put, the way Apple implemented its very strong encryption system, at least in iOS 8 and later, means it itself doesn't have a key to that door. Only users do, and those will have to be compelled by courts without Apple's involvement. In other words, should the UK government force it to hand over nonexistent keys, it will have no choice but to remove the door completely anyway. No encryption, in short.

Cupertino makes one more appeal that is specific to this instance. The UK's bill would basically force non-UK companies to comply with laws that might be illegal in their own home countries. Not only does it place more burden on said companies to have regional differences in their products, it could also open a can of worms with regards to political relationships with other sovereign nations, as it would practically allow the UK to sanction a mass hacking done by a non-UK company that could also affect customers of other countries as well.

VIA: 9to5Mac