Apple Threatens to Withdraw Services in the UK Due to Surveillance Bill

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The UK government is planning to update the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) a bill that dictates how security agencies could interfere with privacy and read private encrypted messages to obtain investigatory information.

According to the amendments, a “skilled person” must write a report for communications regulator Ofcom before it uses the new powers to compel a firm to scan messages, which was optional in previous versions of the bill.

But Apple, as well as other tech giants like Meta and Signal are upset, and they’re not going down without a fight. Apple is reportedly very discontented with the upcoming bill and has threatened to fully remove FaceTime and iMessage services in the country, all because it doesn’t want to weaken the security of its products.

According to Cybernews, these IPA modifications dictate that tech companies would need to clear new security features for their products with the Home Office before releasing them to customers- even regular iOS software updates would need to be confirmed by the government, if it decided that such changes have “a negative impact on investigatory powers.”

This new bill would also let the government force companies to disable the security features of their products without telling the public.

Apple claims that encrypted content and online privacy in general would be endangered, and expresses opposition to the requirement for non-UK-based companies to comply with the changes that would affect their product globally.

Apple stated in an announcement that the proposals would “make the Home Office the de facto global arbiter of what level of data security and encryption are permissible,” and added that it would not make changes to security features specifically for one country that would weaken a product for all users.

Finally, Apple stated it had never built a backdoor in its products for governments to use, so it would rather entirely withdraw security features from the British market.