Thursday 29 September 2016

Apple says UK trying to assert legal dominance over Irish companies

Published 22/12/2015 | 02:30

Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, which has submitted written evidence to a committee in the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Reuters
Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, which has submitted written evidence to a committee in the Houses of Parliament. Photo: Reuters

Apple has formally challenged the British government's bid to introduce new laws that would force companies to weaken their encryption.

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In an unprecedented move, it has submitted written evidence before the Investigatory Powers Bill scrutiny committee in the UK Houses of Parliament.

The tech giant claims that the proposed new law, which purports to help British authorities fight terrorism, would weaken the security of "hundreds of millions" of people who use Apple's iMessage and Facetime communications platforms.

"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," said Apple's submission.

"The creation of back doors 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."

British Prime Minister David Cameron has been a keen proponent of the parliamentary bill, arguing it is necessary to intercept and prevent terrorist attacks. Other services to be affected would include popular messaging service WhatsApp.

But in its written submission, Apple says that its incorporation in Ireland means that the UK is trying to legislate for companies outside its jurisdiction.

"If the UK asserts jurisdiction over Irish or American businesses, other states will too," the company said in its submission. "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 which the provider is not even allowed to confirm or deny. Maintaining trust in such circumstances will be extremely difficult.

"Those businesses affected will have to cope with a set of overlapping foreign and domestic laws.

"When these laws inevitably conflict, the businesses will be left having to arbitrate between them, knowing that in doing so they might risk sanctions."

Irish Independent

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