Apple also opposes the scanning of apps for encrypted messages

a picture showing a female looking at her phone in front of the Apple logo

Apple has criticized the Online Safety Bill's provisions that could be used to mandate the scanning of messages for child abuse using encrypted messaging services like iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal.

Its action follows a letter to Technology Minister Chloe Smith from 80 organizations and tech professionals asking for a rethink of the powers.

Apple advised the BBC that the bill should be changed to safeguard encryption.

The BBC has asked the government for a response.

Anyone other than the sender and recipient cannot read the message thanks to end-to-end encryption (E2EE).

The technology, which is also used by apps like WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage, according to the police, the government, and some well-known child protection charities, prevents law enforcement from discovering the sharing of child sexual abuse material and the companies themselves.

The privacy of journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats is protected by end-to-end encryption, according to a statement from Apple.

"It also aids regular people in protecting themselves against surveillance, identity theft, fraud, and data breaches. The Online Safety Bill seriously undermines this defense and may put UK citizens at risk.

"Apple requests that the government change the legislation so that everyone can benefit from strong end-to-end encryption. ".

According to previous statements from the government, tech companies "have a moral duty to ensure they are not blinding themselves and law enforcement to the unprecedented levels of child sexual abuse on their platforms. ".

Ministers from the Home Office have also expressed their strong disapproval of Facebook's messaging technology rollout.

A picture of someone walking infront of an add for WhatsApp
WhatsApp is also opposed to compromising the security of its encrypted app.

The Online Safety Bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament, includes provisions that could give the communications regulator Ofcom the authority to order platforms to employ approved technology to scan the contents of messages.

Numerous messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Signal, have previously informed the BBC that they will decline to weaken the privacy of their encrypted messaging systems if required to do so.

If required to compromise the privacy of its encrypted messaging app, Signal declared in February that it would "walk" away from the UK.

The most popular encrypted apps are now opposed to this provision of the bill thanks to Apple's statement.

The government claims that technological advances can be made so that the contents of encrypted messages can be checked for evidence of child abuse.

Many tech experts claim that installing client-side scanning software, which scans messages on the phone or computer before they are sent, is the only way to accomplish that.

Critics claim that this would seriously impair the confidentiality of messages.

Following a backlash, Apple abandoned plans it had made public in 2021 to check iPhone photos for offensive content before uploading them to the cloud. It has now made it abundantly clear that it opposes any action that reduces the privacy provided by end-to-end encryption.

The announcement comes as minister Chloe Smith received an open letter from the advocates for online civil liberties, The Open Rights Group.

More than 80 national and international civil society groups, academics, and cyber-experts signed the letter, which states that the UK "could become the first liberal democracy to require the routine scanning of people's private chat messages, including chats that are secured by end-to-end encryption.".

"Since over 40 million UK residents and 2 billion people worldwide depend on these services, there is a serious risk to the security of digital communication services both domestically and abroad. ".

Customers would become less trusting of security products made by UK companies, according to Element, a British tech company whose products using E2EE are used by government and military clients. Element previously told the BBC that measures in the bill that are perceived to weaken the privacy of encrypted messages would have this effect.

The BBC has learned that there is growing speculation about potential amendments to a section of the bill that critics fear could be used to impose mandatory scanning. These might be a part of a set of amendments that are announced in the upcoming days.

However, it is unclear whether or not the specifics of those changes will allay the concerns of campaigners.

Source link

You've successfully subscribed to Webosor
Great! Next, complete checkout to get full access to all premium content.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Unable to sign you in. Please try again.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Error! Stripe checkout failed.
Success! Your billing info is updated.
Billing info update failed.