Apple is butting heads with the British government over its Message and FaceTime apps, but now the government hints it could ban some Apple security updates.

On July 30, Apple said it will remove services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the UK rather than weaken security if new proposals for the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) are made law and acted upon, reports the BBC.

The Investigatory Powers Act is an Act of the UK Parliament  passed in 2016. It comprehensively sets out and in limited respects expands the electronic surveillance powers of the British intelligence agencies and police.It also claims to improve the safeguards on the exercise of those powers. Apple has consistently opposed the act. 

The tech giant will certainly be against the British government’s latest plan for tech companies need to notify the British government before rolling out a security fix. The Just Security website says this is a bad idea and likely illegal. From the report: … expanding the extraterritorial effects of the notices regimes would entitle the U.K. government to decide the fate of data privacy and security for virtually every citizen in the world. For example, a notice asking operators to undermine end-to-end encryption would mean that end-to-end encryption would also be weakened for citizens in states with authoritarian regimes and a weak rule of law. To that end, it is worth noting that, in relation to access to encrypted communications for journalists, human rights defenders and other categories at risk, the United Nations (U.N.) High Commissioner for Human Rights has underlined that: encryption and anonymity tools are widely used around the world, including by human rights defenders, civil society, journalists, whistle-blowers and political dissidents facing persecution and harassment. Weakening them jeopardizes the privacy of all users and exposes them to unlawful interferences not only by States, but also by non-State actors, including criminal networks.

… Furthermore, secure communications channels are often the sole means for journalists and human rights defenders to avoid persecution or even torture. In the event the United Kingdom exercises the full extent of its purported enforcement powers under these proposed laws, it is possible it would be accountable for human rights violations occurring outside its borders.This was also the conclusion reached by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in his Report on the Right to Privacy in the Digital Age:

… The proposed changes to the notices regimes under the IPA  raise significant concerns about their compatibility with IHRL. In the evolving landscape of digital rights and security, these proposed changes underscore the imperative need for governments to strike an appropriate balance between national security and individual rights. As it revises domestic surveillance laws, the United Kingdom should recommit to  its obligations under international law to safeguard individual rights at home and abroad.

Article provided with permission from AppleWorld.Today