Apple has called on the UK government to make changes to its investigatory powers bill – nicknamed the snooper’s charter – because it could “weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers”.
The Californian technology company expressed majors concerns and called for wholesale changes to be made to the bill, the aim of which is to “modernise the law on communications data”, in a submission to the bill committee that was released on Monday.
“We believe it would be wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat,” Apple said.
“In this rapidly evolving cyber-threat environment, companies should remain free to implement strong encryption to protect customers.”
Apple told the committee that passages of the investigatory powers bill, which was presented to the House of Commons by the home secretary, Theresa May, in November and is currently at the committee stage, could give the government the power to make Apple change the way its iMessage instant messaging service works.
Instant messaging services like iMessage, Snapchat and WhatsApp use encryption – encoding data so only authorised parties can see it – to protect users’ privacy. According to Apple, the bill could lead to this encryption being weakened, enabling security services to eavesdrop on iMessage and making it more vulnerable to hackers.
“The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers,” Apple said in its submission.
“A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too.”
Apple also expressed concerned about a section of the draft bill that would give security services the authority to hack into computers around the world – enshrining in statute the government’s right to do so. It contains provisions requiring communications companies to help security services hack into devices, which Apple said is tantamount to being forced to hack into its own products.
“It would place businesses like Apple – whose relationship with customers is in part built on a sense of trust about how data will be handled – in a very difficult position,” said Apple.