Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Apple tears apart proposed British anti-encryption law in written memo to parliament

Published Dec 22nd, 2015 8:47AM EST

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

No matter what some would say about Apple’s determination to encrypt its products, the company is not ready to go down without a fight in an effort to protect its privacy policies, even if that means engaging in a war of words with legislators.

In addition to fighting the U.S. government over encryption, Apple has now officially voiced its objections to a law that proposes weaker encryption in Britain.

DON’T MISS: Incredible photos and video from SpaceX’s historic rocket landing

The company has filed written evidence before the Investigatory Powers Bill scrutiny committee in the U.K. House of Parliament, which is an unprecedented move for Apple, according to The Independent. Apple says that while the new law might help British authorities fight terrorism, it will weaken the security of “hundreds of millions” of people who use iMessage and FaceTime.

“The bill threatens to hurt law-abiding citizens in its effort to combat the few bad actors who have a variety of ways to carry out their attacks,” Apple wrote. “The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers. A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too.”

Apple continued, “Some have asserted that, given the expertise of technology companies, they should be able to construct a system that keeps the data of nearly all users secure but still allows the data of very few users to be read covertly when a proper warrant is served.” The company added that the laws of mathematics can’t simply be rewritten. Not to mention that governments have no idea which individuals will become targets of an investigation, but the encryption system would have to be compromised for everyone in order for spy agencies to be able to comb for data.

“The best minds in the world cannot rewrite the laws of mathematics. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data will by extension weaken the protection,” Apple added. “And recent history is littered with cases of attackers successfully implementing exploits that nearly all experts either remained unaware of or viewed as merely theoretical.”

Apple is also worried about the kind of precedent this new law would set, since a foreign government would essentially be telling a U.S. firm how to conduct its business abroad.

“If the UK asserts jurisdiction over Irish or American businesses, other states will too,” Apple said. “We know that the IP bill process is being watched closely by other countries. For the consumer in, say, Germany, this might represent hacking of their data by an Irish business on behalf of the UK state under a bulk warrant – activity that the provider is not even allowed to confirm or deny. Maintaining trust in such circumstances will be extremely difficult.”

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.