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The United Kingdom wants to make significant changes in its Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016, and Apple is unhappy about this. In response, the Cupertino company says it will pull its FaceTime and iMessage services instead of complying with the planned changes, which “constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy.” (via BBC)

IPA gives UK’s security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other public authorities investigatory powers over interception of communications, retention and acquisition of communications data, equipment interference for obtaining communications and other data, and retention and examination of bulk personal datasets. However, the changes the UK wants will further force tech companies to submit to the authorities’ demands, which could negatively impact their customers’ privacy and security.

To start, the changes will require companies to first inform the Home Office regarding changes in the security features of their products before releasing them. It also obliges non-UK-based companies to comply with changes that would affect their product globally, including providing a backdoor to end-to-end encryption. Lastly, the changes will push companies to follow the order of the Home Office to disable or block a security feature immediately without having the option to appeal this or request a review.

Apple opposes the points in a 9-page submission amid the current eight-week consultation for the proposed amendments. The company stresses that it refused to sacrifice a product’s strength just to follow the security feature changes and orders of one country. It also notes that some of the changes need a software update, making the amendment’s aim to make the changes secret to the public impossible. Ultimately, Apple explains how the proposals would harm users outside the UK, calling it a “direct threat to data security and information privacy.” Nonetheless, the government says the changes are “not about the creation of new powers.”

Apple also opposes a clause in the Online Safety Bill, which will give the communications regulator the power to install a technology for scanning encrypted messaging apps and services for child-abuse material. WhatsApp and Signal also express their disapproval of the plan, with the latter threatening to “walk” from the UK if it is pushed.

Aside from this, the power and control of companies like Apple over their services could also face another major change in France with a new bill approved by lawmakers. Once approved to be a law, the bill will allow the authorities to remotely tap the user’s device, giving them access to its camera, microphone, and location service. Nonetheless, the bill will just be used on individuals considered terror offense suspects and could only be employed for a maximum of six months.

What do you think of these new security-related bills being pushed by different governments to tech companies? Let us know in the comment section!


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