TECH

Apple Submits Concerns About 'Snooper's Charter' To Parliamentary Committee With Eight-Page Report

22/12/2015 09:02 GMT | Updated 22/12/2015 09:59 GMT

Apple has taken its first step in what will almost certainly be a long and drawn out conflict of words with the British government over the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill otherwise known as the 'Snooper's Charter'.

The company has reportedly filed an eight-page report to the the parliamentary committee that's currently scrutinising the 300-page document which makes up the draft bill.

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Under the new law Home Secretary Theresa May would significantly escalate the capabilities of the security services including giving them the ability to access smartphones and computers remotely and potentially even break through the end-to-end encryption which makes WhatsApp, iMessage messages secure.

Apple's CEO Tim Cook has long been a critic of the bill, warning in an interview last month that the removal of any form of encryption could have 'dire consequences'.

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According to the Financial Times, Apple said demands for the ability to access data held in other countries would "immobilise substantial portions of the tech sector and spark serious international conflicts".

Under proposals in Theresa May's Investigatory Powers Bill, communications firms will be legally required to help spies hack into suspects' smartphones and computers.

Domestic providers will be obliged to assist intelligence agencies when they are given warrants to carry out equipment interference .

The technique allows authorities to interfere with electronic devices in order to obtain data and can range from remotely accessing a computer to covertly downloading the contents of a mobile phone.

It is seen as an increasingly crucial tool as advanced encryption makes intercepting targets' communications more difficult.

The BBC said Apple's submission to the committee runs to eight pages, and focuses on three issues: encryption, the possibility of having to hack its own products, and the precedent it would set by agreeing to comply with UK-issued warrants.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph last month, Apple boss Tim Cook said any attempt to weaken encryption could have ''very dire consequences'', harming consumers by making their data less secure.

''To protect people who use any products, you have to encrypt. You can just look around and see all the data breaches that are going on.

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''These things are becoming more frequent. They can not only result in privacy breaches but also security issues. We believe very strongly in end-to-end encryption and no back doors," he said.

Mr Cook warned: ''We don't think people want us to read their messages. We don't feel we have the right to read their emails.

''Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences.''

There are also fears in technology circles that the proposals will hit services offering ''end-to-end encryption'' such as WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage, despite the Home Secretary's assurances that the legislation ''will not ban encryption or do anything to undermine the security of people's data''.

The proposed new laws could impose obligations on telecommunications providers requiring them to remove ''electronic protection'' applied to ''communications or data''.