Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Apple verses MI5 and the British security services - update

Update: I wrote an article below about the pending Surveillance Bill which has had second reading and what this means for your mobile phone maker particularly given Apple's stateside stance int eh USA with eh FBI over the the privacy of California terrorists iPhone. Whilst Apple are taking a muted view, Facebook, Yahoo and others aren't. This article is a good update on the issue.


Previous post.. 

If you are an Apple customer - watch out! US Politics may be about to lock you out of your iPhone for good if you forget your password and should that happen then UK politics may be about to render your device possibly illegal? It is all going to get a bit cloudy.

In the US is it all revolves around the iPhone of California terrorist which the FBI claim (successfully at Supreme Court) could contain vital information. Apple refuses to interfere with customers security, primarily because it would be accused by anti-government elements within society of conspiracy to spy on citizens. Like most Europeans, I don't accept that is the big issue here.

Apple's response:  Apple to beef up customers' iCloud encryption. New protections could make it impossible for tech group to comply with law enforcement data requests.

FT.com: "The move would bolster Apple customers' security against hackers but also frustrate investigators who are currently able to obtain data from Apple's servers through a court order.
Apple has complied with thousands of such orders in the past.
Apple is working on new ways to strengthen the encryption of customers' iCloud backups in a way that would make it impossible for the company to comply with valid requests for data from law enforcement, according to people familiar with its plans.

Building new protections that mean Apple no longer has access to iCloud encryption keys may inconvenience some customers. Such a change would most likely mean that customers who forget their iCloud password may be left unable to access their photos, contacts and other personal information that is backed up to Apple's systems" ft.com

Back here in the UK the government quite rightly in my view is looking to strengthen the access laws to new media for security services. It wants to "codify the rules governing MI5, MI6, GCHQ and police forces' access to Britons' communications, saying changes in the law are necessary to tackle the growing online threat posed by terrorists and organised crime." With some safeguards, it will "force technology companies to weaken encryption of the private data of millions of citizen

The Investigatory Powers Bill, to be published on Tuesday, will aim to clarify the position on encryption and will include codes of practice aimed at reassuring tech and communications companies over the retention of internet connection records. The government intends the bill to be passed into law by the end of the year.

The Investigatory Powers Bill has many other clauses related to other security matters it is worth adding.

If the government are going to legislate for encryption that allows access and Apple are going to do away with iCloud security measures so the company has no ability at all to unencrypt your iPhone or iPad - and that of terrorists too. Lets see how this plays out.