Apple bites into, finds worms in Snoopers Charter

News by Max Metzger

Apple has piled on the criticism of the Investigatory Powers Bill in its submission to the parliamentary committee overseeing the bill.

Global tech giant Apple has criticised the UK's incoming security laws in parliamentary committee.

The much maligned Investigatory Powers Bill was slammed by Apple in an eight-page submission to the parliamentary committee which is currently overseeing the legislation.

The bill primarily focuses on inbuilt ‘backdoors', ways to get around encryption should the government ever need to access encrypted information in the course of a criminal investigation or security emergency. Apple, however, told The Guardian of the folly of this approach, “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 wrote in its submission that this would threaten the “the personal data of million of law abiding citizens”.

Apple also expressed concern about the international implications of the bill, claiming that such legislation could inspire similar legislation by other countries, thus paralysing “multinational corporations under the weight of what could be dozens or hundreds of contradictory country-specific laws”. The company fears that the bill would require such corporations to hand over data held in other countries with their own encryption laws, which the company said could “immobilize substantial portions of the tech sector and spark serious international conflicts.”

The committee has yet to publish its findings but in the meantime have brought in a number of tech companies other than Apple to review the government's proposals.

One such company is Microsoft, a spokesman for which commented to the BBC on the company's worries about the global implications of the bill: "The legislation must avoid conflicts with the laws of other nations and contribute to a system where like-minded governments work together, not in competition, to keep people more secure. We appreciate the government's willingness to engage in an open debate and will continue to advocate for a system that is workable on a global basis."

Rafael Laguna, CEO of  Open-Xchange spoke to SC. “Apple's submission to the bill committee illustrates a very simple fact: backdoors are bad for business. Not only does encryption serve to protect data from being altered or stolen, but by eroding consumer confidence in products through removing their civil liberties the UK Government will no doubt shoot itself in the foot, putting a huge brake on its own technology industry.”

Laguna added, “The commercial and reputational impact the UK will suffer is immense. With this in mind, the Government needs to ask itself, why anyone would choose to invest in, operate in or buy security-reliant products from a UK firm once the Investigatory Powers Bill passes.”

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