Apple Threatens to Remove Messaging Services From UK


Apple has reportedly taken a tough stance against the British government’s proposed updates to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016.

The tech giant has said it will remove its messaging services FaceTime and iMessage from the United Kingdom if the proposals are made law, BBC News reported Thursday (July 20).

Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

The government’s proposals would require messaging services to clear security features with the Home Office and would allow that office to require that the services disable the features, immediately and without telling the public, according to the report.

The Home Office told the BBC that the proposals are designed to provide protection against criminals.

Apple has argued that the proposed requirements would result in “a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy” for all users, not just those in the U.K., according to the report.

The company has also argued against having to take immediate action if a notice to disable or block a feature is received from the Home Office rather than waiting until after the demand has been reviewed or appealed against, and against requiring non-U.K.-based companies to comply with changes that would affect their product globally, the report said.

At the center of the debate has been the issue of end-to-end encryption, which allows users to have private conversations, the report said.

Other messaging platforms have joined Apple in challenging a clause in the U.K.’s Online Safety Bill that said that the government can require tech companies to install software in apps to scan for child-abuse material, according to the report.

The Online Safety Bill seeks to curb online harms by significantly increasing the responsibilities of Big Tech firms to monitor content posted on their platforms. It imposes a new online duty of care on platforms, requiring the removal of illegal content and, for “high-risk, high-reach” services, extending to material that is lawful but harmful.