The moves by the UK Government to introduce a draft law to force telecoms companies to hand over encryption keys has been criticised by tech giant Apple.
The company’s Chief Executive, Tim Cook, went so far as to say that Apple was opposed to a new British law because it would create vulnerabilities that could then be exploited by hackers.
The proposed draft surveillance bill would see explicit obligations placed on service providers regarding the interception of data from suspects’ devices. This could potentially mean the end of the encryption used on Apple’s iMessages.
In effect, the company would have to create a “back door” in the encryption process in order to comply with the new rules, and this is where hackers could potentially take advantage.
“If you leave a back door in the software, there is no such thing as a back door for good guys only,” Cook explained. “If there is a back door, anyone can come in the back door.”
He went on to add: “We believe that the safest approach for the world is to encrypt end to end with no back door. We think that protects the most people.”
Cook’s view was challenged by Robert Hannigan, the Director of Britain’s eavesdropping agency GCHQ.
He said that any claims the new law demanded a ban on encryption and risked opening up vulnerabilities were all myths.
Hannigan also said that collecting information needed for national security and serious crime purposes “should not be beyond the lawful, warranted reach of the state when the need arises.”
However, Cook hit back by claiming that the new rules would simply move the problem elsewhere.
“If you close down the major companies from using encryption, the bad guys aren’t going to stop using encryption. They are just going to go to another source,” he said.
Although he didn’t comment on whether or not Apple would be uncooperative with the UK Government over the issue, he pointed out that there was some ambiguity in the bill as it currently stands and that Apple could simply find ways to circumvent it.