Apple has expressed major concerns over the UK government's investigatory powers bill, claiming that if passed, the bill could jeopardise the privacy and data of millions of law abiding citizens. Apple has also recommended major amendments to the bill, before it is passed.
The Cupertino-based company said in a statement: "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."
Highlighting key areas that needed to be changed in the snooper's charter, Apple revealed that the bill could give the UK government the licence to demand the tech giant to change the way it provided certain services. For instance, Apple would have to allow access to the UK government to view the personal messages of their customers – regardless whether they are criminals or law abiding citizens.
Apple said: "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."
Meanwhile, the UK government has claimed that the investigatory powers bill is in line with the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa) – an Act of the Parliament of the UK, regulating the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation, and covering the interception of communications – which was introduced in 2000.
According to the government, the proposed legislation will only incorporate previous powers that were granted under Ripa. However, technology firms fear that certain key differences in the language of the new legislation would result in providing a lot more authority and autonomy to security agencies.
Explaining the consequences and certain aspects of the proposed bill Apple claimed: "It would place businesses like Apple – whose relationship with customers is in part built on a sense of trust about how data will be handled – in a very difficult position. For the consumer in, say, Germany, this might represent hacking of their data by an Irish business on behalf of the UK state under a bulk warrant – activity which the provider is not even allowed to confirm or deny. Maintaining trust in such circumstances will be extremely difficult."
The investigatory powers bill was first submitted to the House of Commons in November by home secretary Theresa May. It is currently being reviewed.