APPLE has reportedly threatened to remove FaceTime and iMessage from the UK if the government’s plans to change security laws are successful.
The government is trying to force messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office before releasing them to customers.
The Government plans to achieve this through updates to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016.
The law allows the Home Office to require security features to be disabled after an inspection without informing the public.
A company can then appeal a decision if it is dissatisfied with it.
However, if legislative changes are successful, those security changes would have to happen immediately — without review or appeals.
Because of the secrecy surrounding these demands, little is known about how many were issued and whether they were complied with, according to the BBC.
This comes amid an uproar from other tech companies, including WhatsApp and Signal, over the government’s proposed online safety bill.
The bill, as it stands, would require companies to install technology to search for child abuse material in encrypted messaging apps and other services.
WhatsApp, Signal and Apple messaging services are all based on end-to-end encryption, which means that nobody but the sender and the intended recipient can read the message information.
Not even the tech giants themselves.
All three companies have publicly opposed the bill.
WhatsApp and Signal have even threatened to leave the UK for good if it becomes law.
Apple has made a strong case for notifying the Home Office of any changes to product security features prior to their release.
The iPhone maker has also spoken out against being required to take immediate action when a notification is received from the Home Office to disable or block a feature.
Apple insists it won’t make any country-specific changes to security features that would ultimately weaken a product for all users worldwide.
While some changes would require a software update to be released, they could not be made secretly, the company said.
Ultimately, according to the tech giant, the proposals “pose a serious and direct threat to data security and privacy” that would also affect people outside the UK.
The Sun has reached out to the government for comment.
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