Apple is no stranger to controversy, especially regarding government agencies. But the new proposal could aim to be “unprecedented” within the reach of the tech giant.
Apple strongly criticized the move, noting that it would give the UK unprecedented power and allow it to veto privacy and security updates. The company said in a statement: “We are very concerned about the proposed amendments [to the IPA] Now before Parliament, it puts users’ privacy and security at risk.”
Despite Apple’s concerns about the amendments, the UK has defended its proposals, stating that they aim to combat “hostile activity by states” as well as “terrorists and criminal groups”. The UK has also indicated that it needs to implement “world-leading safeguards consistent with UK democratic values”, which explains why these proposals also affect countries other than the UK.
The proposal must first pass the House of Commons before it reaches the House of Lords. The House of Lords cannot directly oppose new legislation, but it can certainly delay the process and force compliance before it is passed.
Apple is on the right side of history
It’s an interesting situation currently unfolding between the UK and Apple, and it’s a surprisingly complex one. On the one hand, it would be almost normal to support restrictive legislation against a company, especially one as rich and powerful as Apple. But it looks like Apple might be right this time.
The UK emphasizes that these amendments are only intended for the safety of users, not only in the UK but around the world. However, allowing the UK to pass these laws into law would significantly increase the extent of government control over companies and especially the data of ordinary citizens that is collected and stored. The UK is not asking Apple to improve its security or control the amount of data the company collects, but simply wants access to that data for itself.
The BBC reported that several civil liberties groups are siding with Apple, including Big Brother Watch, Liberty, Open Right Group, and Privacy International. In a joint statement issued by a conference between these groups, the amendment to the law was described as “effectively turning private companies into arms of the surveillance state and eroding the security of devices and the Internet.”
We’ll have to see how this whole situation develops.