Apple Says It Will End FaceTime and iMessage Access in the U.K. If It Is Required to Weaken Security

Zoe Kleinman, BBC News:

Apple says it will remove services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the UK rather than weaken security if new proposals are made law and acted upon.

The government is seeking to update the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016.

It wants messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office before releasing them to customers.

The act lets the Home Office demand security features are disabled, without telling the public. Under the update, this would have to be immediate.

While Kleinman broke this news, it was Jonny Evans at Apple Must who obtained and posted the full letter:

The threat was presented to the UK within Apple’s response to the government in relation to these proposals. You can read the nine-page criticism here (PDF).

Great scoop.

I was waiting to see this letter before linking to the BBC story, since I think it is necessary to see the fullest context of these kinds of arguments. The policy proposed gives the Home Office extraordinary power to approve or deny security and privacy features, and to disable them without acknowledgement, which is a wildly dangerous overreach. Alas, these proposals are also in line with the dreams of other countries. Combined with permanent records storage — also getting closer to reality — policies like these would make the U.K. a test bed for truly authoritarian domestic surveillance.