Wednesday 7 December 2016

Apple boss Tim Cook says David Cameron won't succeed in passing controversial 'back door' encryption law

Published 15/11/2015 | 10:16

Tim Cook CEO Apple Inc. who paid a visit to Independent News and Media's offices on Talbot Street is interviewed by Adrian Weckler.
Pic Steve Humphreys
Tim Cook CEO Apple Inc. who paid a visit to Independent News and Media's offices on Talbot Street is interviewed by Adrian Weckler. Pic Steve Humphreys
David Cameron

Apple chief executive Tim Cook believes that British Prime Minister David Cameron will not succeed in passing a controversial new law that forces companies such as Apple to put a ‘back door’ into encrypted messaging services such as iMessage.

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In an interview with Independent.ie, Cook also said that Apple had “no intention” of introducing such a back door.

“The UK government has been clear publicly that they are not seeking to weaken encryption,” said Cook. “And so I take them at their word that they would not do that. And at the moment as you know, we encrypt iMessage end to end and we have no backdoor. And we have no intention of changing that.”

The proposed law is being introduced, says UK prime minister David Cameron, because allowing ‘end to end’ encryption makes it too easy for terrorists and other criminals to set things up without fear of being disrupted.

But Cook has repeatedly warned that removing end-to-end encryption from everyday services such as iMessage would weaken security for ordinary people and leave them more vulnerable to being hacked, while terrorists retained access to encrypted messaging over other services such as Tor.

And he said that asking Apple and other companies to break end-to-end encryption would be a volte-face from the British government’s stated position on keeping encryption intact.

David Cameron
David Cameron

“Any change made would contradict the UK government’s view that they would not weaken encryption,” he said. “And so I think that we’ll work closely with them. And I have every faith that through this process of the next year, give or take a year, that the bill will become very clear.”

Asked what a successful passing of the law would mean for Apple and iMessage, Cook declined to comment further.

“I’m confident that they would not pass a bill that would weaken encryption because I take them at their word for it,” he said.

Cook also said that Europe is “leading the world” on privacy and is the place he feels most “at home” on the issue. He said that many of Europe’s instincts on privacy align more closely to his own than other jurisdictions.

“I think Europe is leading the world on that topic and it’s great,” he said. “I feel right at home when I come to Europe and talk about privacy.”

Cook declined to comment on specific measures, such as the ‘right to be forgotten’ rule that allows individuals to have personal information removed from search engines.

“I wouldn’t want to comment on that specific one. But I think, on a macro basis, it’s the concept that all of us should have the right to our data, how it’s used and where it’s used. I think these concepts are powerful and have never been more important as the advancements in technology have enabled many things beyond what should occur.”

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