The United Kingdom has been planning to update its Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016, which would require messaging services to disable their security features upon request by the authorities in an attempt to “protect the public from criminals, child sex abusers and terrorists”.
Apple voiced concerns that the new changes might compromise data security and information privacy and threatened to pull iMessage and FaceTime from the UK if the revised act goes through.
WhatsApp and Signal also strongly opposed a clause in the Online Safety Bill, which essentially wants services to install a backdoor to end-to-end encryption. Introducing a workaround for encrypted messages means they are no longer encrypted, and Signal also threatened to “walk” from the United Kingdom.
If the Act goes through, messaging platforms would need to tell the Home Office of any changes to product security features before they are released; Non-UK companies must apply the change to their product globally and have to take action immediately, instead of having to go through bureaucratic hurdles. Apple stated these proposals “constitute a serious and direct threat” to people outside the UK.
The Investigatory Powers Act is under an eight-week consultation process on the proposed amendments, and analysts predict tech companies are unlikely to accept the changes.