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Wikipedia founder says Apple should stop selling iPhones in the UK if govt bans end-to-end encryption

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has tweeted that Apple should stop selling iPhones in the UK if the British government succeeds in passing a “stupid” new law completely banning end-to-end encryption. The tweet was reported by the Independent.

[tweet https://twitter.com/jimmy_wales/status/661604239794376704 align=’center’]

The Investigatory Powers Bill would require all Internet and technology companies to hand over to the government any communications data it requests. As things stand, Apple would be unable to comply with this requirement as it uses end-to-end encryption for services like iMessage and FaceTime.

As an illustration of the technological illiteracy of the government’s proposals, it originally wanted to ban encrypted communication altogether. It had to be pointed out to ministers that this would make Internet banking and online shopping illegal …

Apple has come under fire in the U.S. for its uncompromising stance on the privacy of customer data, with DOJ and FBI officials complaining that was Apple winning the PR battle. Apple lobbied Obama to reject similar proposals in the USA.

Photo: Apple Store in Regent Street, London (Foster & Partners)

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Comments

  1. dolevmonfred123 - 7 years ago

    I think so as well

  2. realgurahamu - 7 years ago

    Apple should make this threat – after all how much sales tax will the government lose for the sake of illegal breaches of human rights regarding privacy?

  3. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    Absolutely agree with the previous 2 posters views!

  4. 89p13 - 7 years ago

    I absolutely agree with these views!

  5. alanaudio - 7 years ago

    Apple wouldn’t really have any choice. It couldn’t comply with this proposal unless it were to introduce a special UK ‘snooper compatible’ SpyPhone. If Apple did that, it would open the gate for every other oppressive regime ( China, middle east etc ) to insist on similar SpyPhones for their country.

    The sad truth is that this is just another proposal from David Cameron that hasn’t been thought through, even at the most superficial level. Would existing iPhones become illegal? What about people from abroad using their iPhones in the UK? What about encryption for banks? How could the financial industry operate if it’s known that there is a back door built into their encryption? What about commercially sensitive information? A global company would be reluctant to send ultra sensitive information to it’s UK branch if it knew that it could be intercepted. They might decide that it’s better to pull out of the UK.

    However this proposal as reported seems so ludicrous that I am confident that it won’t actually come to anything. My guess is that it’s an opening gambit where they propose something far in excess of what is needed so that what they end up getting would be more extreme than they might otherwise have achieved before proposing the draconian option. It’s like a dodgy car dealer asking for 10,000 while knowing that he’ll accept 3,000. The comparison with a dodgy car dealer sounds about right for David Cameron.

    • Ben Lovejoy - 7 years ago

      It is indeed ludicrous. The problem is, most MPs don’t understand what they’re being asked to vote on …

      • Grayson Mixon - 7 years ago

        Well that’s it, now isn’t it? 299 pages? Most people won’t even read it before voting on it.

        It’s like Obamacare in the US. It was thousands of pages. One senator said, “We need to pass it so that we can figure out what’s in it.”

        The Constitution is 5 pages. You can set up an entire country with 5 pages of text, but a single bill takes hundreds or thousands of pages? It seems like a deliberate attempt to obfuscate what’s in these laws so that not even ever member of Congress or Parliament can read the whole thing.

      • mpias3785 - 7 years ago

        Since when do politicians need to understand something in order to have an opinion about it?

  6. André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

    More stupid people, believe that giving up encryption is a violation of their rights.

    • depicus - 7 years ago

      Mmmm André I suspect you are the stupid one for not understanding how much of your life relies on encryption – while I’m not a great one for “rights” I do understand it’s importance and one shitty little country trying to ban it is just plain stupid – our government shows it’s stupidity more and more each day.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        Oh really, and what do you lose exactly?
        If you don’t do anything illegal, then you’re fine.
        The government have expert panels to help them out – they know what they’re doing.

      • Fca Aficionado - 7 years ago

        Five words for you Andre that refute the “they are the govt and know what they do and expert commission” theories you hold so dear:

        WMD -> Iraq War.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        @Fca Aficionado,
        Terrible logic you have. WMD and Iraq war are entirely composed of a different set of people and offices.
        Its like saying because people in UK drive on the left hand side of the road, therefore more accidents are caused in USA.
        You must be a woman.

    • paulywalnuts23 - 7 years ago

      Actually that is the most ignorant thing I have ever heard.

    • You clearly must not have anything to offer the world or anything to protect and cherish. I feel sorry for you.

      • André Hedegaard - 7 years ago

        So lemme see: You feel sorry for me because you think I don’t have anything to cherish or offer the world, because my opinion differs than yours.
        Oh well, ho hum, tsk stk, so be it :)

  7. chrisl84 - 7 years ago

    They should…..but they wont.

  8. J.latham - 7 years ago

    Completely agree! I can’t imagine the revenue from the UK being high enough to sacrifice Apple’s core values. Use the UK as an example. Make other countries governements and people more aware of what is going on.

  9. davidt4n - 7 years ago

    Apple can just give a special edition iOS for UK instead. Not selling iPhone at a specific region is doesn’t benefit any party either the consumer, government or Apple.

    • It would be a statement.
      UK government would back down eventually. Or else it would be ridiculed by many, especially when compared to other regimes, supposedly more oppressive.

  10. valanchan - 7 years ago

    It seems that they could not introduce an alternative system that complise to the UK government proposal for years. It would need a substantial rewrite of iOS and OS X.
    But what about physical mail like the Royal post office or DHL. If I send an encrypted letter would the RPO be liable?

  11. appleo - 7 years ago

    I completely agree with the founder of wikipedia.
    This move would not only preserve our privacy, but would give apple much more credibility when it comes to privacy concerns.
    So please Apple, DO IT!

  12. Franco (@frngr) - 7 years ago

    If they would do that, competitors like Google and Microsoft might feel obliged to follow…

  13. Graham J - 7 years ago

    Wales is absolutely correct. The right of citizens to privacy supersedes that of governments to spy.

  14. fberzau - 7 years ago

    The problem is not with the Government to aim for such laws. It’s not with the Services asking for ways to intercept communications. And it’s not with vendors like Apple to fight against this. The problem is that we keep on voting for parties that would do this. And it’s not we didn’t know. We – at least the majority of us – didn’t care, or didn’t care enough. So in a sense you could argue that we are getting what we asked for. You might think that the Government is made up of people smarter than the average person voting for them. Well… good luck with that. I have nothing to hide. Yet I feel uncomfortable knowing that a bunch of paranoid, cold-harted officers have access to my private communications with my wife and kids, with my doctor, my friends and so on. God knows, maybe in a few years, it’s enough I once raised my concern over this practice, that I end up in prison. If history is telling me something, then it’s that power is doing no good to humans. And that, in fact, scares me. If Governments would do what they’re meant to do. Facilitate resources to help make this world a better place. We might not even have the problems we now seem to have such a need fighting against.

  15. 100% Agree.
    Same if it was in Portugal.
    You should never bow to terrorism, even if it is from the legislature.

  16. thaboz - 7 years ago

    Let the UK pass this bill and vote to leave the EU all together, they’ll be ending up in the dark ages. Parliament is using iPads, so eventually they’ll have to change to Andriod based devices, let’s see how they like that, security for government will go down the drain, the rest will follow. Apple please announce that you will leave the UK, run your headquarters from the Netherlands and close online and retail stores in the UK. Just do it!

Author

Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!


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