UK surveillance bill could bring ‘very dire consequences’, warns Apple chief – Snoopers Charter – not again!
Apple’s chief executive has sharply criticised surveillance powers proposed by the British government, warning that allowing spies a backdoor route into citizens’ communications could have “very dire consequences”.
Questioning a key element of the draft investigatory powers bill, which places a new legal obligation on companies to assist in these operations to bypass encryption, Tim Cook insisted that companies had to be able to encrypt in order to protect people.
Speaking during a visit to the UK, he said that halting or weakening encryption would hurt “the good people” rather than those who want to do bad things, who “know where to go”.
“You can just look around and see all the data breaches that are going on. These things are becoming more frequent,” Cook told the Daily Telegraph. “They can not only result in privacy breaches but also security issues. We believe very strongly in end-to-end encryption and no back doors. We don’t think people want us to read their messages. We don’t feel we have the right to read their emails.
“Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.”
The draft investigatory powers bill, unveiled by the home secretary, Theresa May, on Wednesday, makes explicit in law for the first time the powers for security services and police to hack into and bug computers and phones
These authorities would be allowed to access records tracking every UK citizen’s use of the internet without any judicial check. It includes new powers requiring internet and phone companies to keep “internet connection records” – which track every website visited but not every page – for a maximum of 12 months but will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the data.
Cook signalled, however, that there would be an outcome which he and others would find favourable, predicting: “When the public gets engaged, the press gets engaged deeply, it will become clear to people what needs to occur. You can’t weaken cryptography. You need to strengthen it. You need to stay ahead of the folks that want to break it.”
Cook’s comments echoed his remarks earlier this year where he warned against eroding the right to privacy and said that technology companies had a duty to protect their customers.
That speech, which was made in February, followed US government attempts to weaken encryption. In the wake of revelations from the National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, Apple and other tech firms have moved to strengthen encryption and faced a backlash from government officials.
The constant pushing of the Snoopers Charter would suppose the government had missed recent data breaches such as Ashley Madison or TalkTalk…
Seriously, this data retention will be a massive honeypot. It will be hacked. Peoples data will be stolen, ID Theft will occur.
This is a toxic situation for tech companies. My money is betting that these massive companies will tell the British Government to take a hike (in loving terms).