The UK’s proposed spying law – the Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB), more commonly known as the snooper’s charter – would make Apple and other tech companies include a backdoor in their software, with similar capabilities as that what the FBI is currently demanding regarding the San Bernardino shooting.
Worryingly this is a bill first drafted back in 2015 (PDF) which has only since been updated.
This comes right on the back for the FBI requesting Apple create a custom version of iOS for use on one device. Yeah right, even before the dust has settled, another 12 cases are being presented to Apple for the exact same reasoning.
However there is more to this one. The Investigatory Powers Bill (IPB) comes with a gagging clause, meaning that if the UK Government did want to make Apple include a backdoor, it would be able to do so and prevent Apple from telling its users that the backdoor even exists.
This information is brought to you by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) where the snoopers charter would authorise UK Government to force companies, including Apple, to offer a backdoor whilst under a gag order.
First up: “Technical Capability Notice” (S.189) – this allows the UK Government to serve a secret order on a telecommunications operator (the bill defines these broadly and includes Apple), it forces them to “remove electronic protection applied … to any communications of data” and to “provide facilities or services of a specified description.”
Secondly : Issue of “National Security Notice” (S.188) – this is another secret and vaguely worded order that would require operators to “carry out any conduct, including the provision of services of facilities,” which the British Government “considers necessary in the interests of national security.
Third : “equipment interference” – the IPB would make communication providers (including Apple) take any “reasonably practicable” steps in enforcing a warrant. EFF believes that the gag orders that accompany these different notices would prevent Apple or other companies from discussing the order with any technical and legal advisors they have.
So the future is starting to look like mobile device makers wont be allow to sell units to countries unless the Government has access.