Apple Warns Proposed UK Law Could ‘Secretly Veto’ Global User Protections

by Tim Hardwick

Apple is “deeply concerned” that proposed changes to British surveillance legislation could give the U.K. government unprecedented powers to secretly prevent software updates from being released in any other country (via BBC News).

The UK government is planning to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), which came into effect in 2016 and allows the British Home Office to outlaw certain encrypted services by issuing something called a Technical Capability Notice (TCN).

Dubbed by critics as a “Snooper’s Charter,” the updated Act of Parliament could also allow the Home Office to decline security and privacy updates without telling the public.

The bill proposes changes including:

  • Creating a new condition for the use of internet connection records to aid “target detection.”
  • Introducing an alternative, less stringent regulatory regime for the retention and examination of bulk personal datasets where individuals have little or no

    expectation of privacy (such as publicly available online telephone directories).
  • A new notification requirement which can be issued to selected

    telecommunications operators requiring them to inform the government of

    proposed changes to their products or services that could negatively impact the current ability of agencies to lawfully access data.

Apple opposes the requirement to inform the Home Office of any changes to product security features before they are released, the requirement for non-U.K.-based companies to comply with changes that would affect their product globally, and having to take action immediately if requested to disable or block a feature without review or an appeals process.

“We’re deeply concerned the proposed amendments to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) now before Parliament place users’ privacy and security at risk,” said Apple in a statement.

“It’s an unprecedented overreach by the government and, if enacted, the UK could attempt to secretly veto new user protections globally preventing us from ever offering them to customers.”

In a July 2023 letter to the Home Office, Apple argued that the proposed changes “would suppress innovation, stifle commerce, and — when combined with purported extraterritorial application — make the Home Office the de facto global arbiter of what level of data security and encryption are permissible.”

The company also said it would consider pulling services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the U.K. rather than compromise future security.

Earlier this month, civil liberties groups including Big Brother Watch, Liberty, Open Rights Group and Privacy International, issued a joint briefing opposing aspects of the bill.

The groups said the proposed changed could “force technology companies, including those based overseas, to inform the government of any plans to improve security or privacy measures on their platforms so that the government can consider serving a notice to prevent such changes.”

“This would be effectively transforming private companies into arms of the surveillance state and eroding the security of devices and the internet,” the groups added.

The proposed changes will be debated in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Potentially ‘Biggest’ Software Update in iPhone’s History

Apple has big plans for iOS 18, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. In the subscriber-only Q&A section of his Power On newsletter today, Gurman said iOS 18 has the potential to be the “biggest” software update in the iPhone’s history. “I’m told that the new operating system is seen within the company as one of the biggest iOS updates — if not the biggest — in the company’s history,” …

Apple Has Sold Approximately 200,000 Vision Pro Headsets

Monday January 29, 2024 3:17 pm PST by Juli Clover

Apple has sold upwards of 200,000 Vision Pro headsets, MacRumors has learned from a source with knowledge of Apple’s sales numbers. Apple began accepting pre-orders for the Vision Pro on January 19, so the headset has been available for purchase in the U.S. for 10 days. Last Monday, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple had sold an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 Vision Pro units during …

Apple Confirms Next-Generation CarPlay Launching in 2024 With These New Features

Apple this week updated its website to confirm that the first U.S. vehicle models with next-generation CarPlay support will debut in 2024, but it did not provide a more specific timeframe, or indicate when availability will begin in other countries. In a next-generation CarPlay section of its website, Apple replaced “Vehicle announcements coming in late 2023” with “First models arrive in…

Gurman: New iPads and Macs Likely to Launch in Late March

Apple will likely launch new iPad Air, iPad Pro, and MacBook Air models “around the end of March,” according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. In his Power On newsletter today, he said production is well underway for the new iPad Pro models and a new 13-inch MacBook Air at a minimum within Apple’s supply chain in Asia. Below, we reiterate Gurman’s expectations for the new iPads and Macs, along…

Apple’s iCloud Services Experiencing Outage [Update: Fixed]

Tuesday January 30, 2024 11:56 am PST by Juli Clover

Some of Apple’s iCloud services are down at the current time, with the website non-functional and iCloud Mail failing to load. There are multiple reports on Twitter and other social networks, and Apple’s System Status page says that some iCloud Mail users may not be able to send, receive, or access their messages. Apple’s System Status page also lists an issue with iCloud web…

tvOS 17.4 Code References Mysterious homeOS

Monday January 29, 2024 10:57 am PST by Aaron Perris

Code discovered by MacRumors in the first beta of tvOS 17.4 suggests that Apple’s work on “homeOS” is continuing behind the scenes. Back in June 2021, Apple listed two job postings that mentioned homeOS, but deleted the term when it was noticed by the media. We’ve seen no sign of homeOS since, except for in the first tvOS 17.4 beta. Apple’s 2018 HomePod ran a modified version of iOS 11…

iOS 17.4 Beta: All the New Changes

Thursday January 25, 2024 4:23 pm PST by Juli Clover

Apple today introduced the first betas of iOS 17.4 and iPadOS 17.4 to developers, bringing some radical updates to the iPhone and iPad in Europe. Most of the big changes will only impact EU users, but there are also updates in the operating system that are available worldwide. In this article, we’ve rounded up everything new in iOS 17.4 beta 1. EU Changes Apple implemented several major …

Read More

Tim Hardwick