Wikipedia founder: Apple should stop selling iPhones in the UK if ‘stupid’ new law banning Apple encryption is enacted

“Apple should stop selling its popular iPhone line in the UK if a new law banning fully encrypted communications is passed, the founder of Wikipedia has said,” Jon Stone reports for The Independent.

“Jimmy Wales, who set up the online encyclopaedia in 2001, described the draft Investigatory Powers Bill as ‘stupid,'” Stone reports. “‘I would like to see Apple refuse to sell iPhone in UK if government bans end-to-end encryption,’ he said on Twitter. ‘Does Parliament dare be that stupid?'”

“The proposed law, to be published in its full draft from on Wednesday by the Home Secretary Theresa May, will mandate internet and technology companies to hand over communications data on request. This means that encryption on communications would in theory have to be breakable by those firms in some way,” Stone reports. “Mr Wales is a long-standing campaigner for an open and free internet and has previously spoken out on issues regarding intellectual property reform and privacy.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Clearly, the Investigatory Powers Bill belongs in the loo as it is the product of some fools’ arse.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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38 Comments

  1. I agree. It’s better to lose the UK’s business than to give up on end-to-end encryption. Besides, this could get Brits to complain to Members of Parliament in an effort to get them to change Britain’s current anti-encryption policy.

  2. Apple should not decide to suspend sales if this law is passed. Imagine governments everywhere would demand access, including Russia, China, U.S. In fact, the China business would be problematic. Part of Apple’s commitment to China is that the US government cannot spy via the iPhone. Remove that and there goes their largest market.. Better to pressure the Brits.

  3. Here’s a more interesting question: would current owners of iPhones have to relinquish them because they would now be “illegal”? There are upwards of 20 million people with iPhones in the UK- wouldn’t that make for a nice ruckus? 😉

      1. True, but if caught with such a device it would be an automatic felony at least in addition to what ever crime was committed that resulted in discovering the ‘illegal’ device.

  4. Cameron would better his country by stopping Islamic fundamentalists from coming into his country instead of worrying about the iPhone. I am not willing to give up my information to these pinheads.

  5. This proposal is so flawed that the only sense I can make of it is that it’s a crude bargaining ploy. Ask for true earth and settle for something less, but more than you might have have got otherwise. The other possible explanation is that David Cameron is even more inept than I thought he was.

    I think that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that this proposal as described could enter the statute books.

    Apple couldn’t possibly comply with such a law law and release a specially crippled UK SpyPhone because it would then open the flood gates for every other insecure government ( China, Russia, Middle East etc ) to demand something similar. I think that Apple’s only option would be to withdraw from the UK market, but as I said, I don’t think that this proposal will become law, so it’s only a hypothetical issue.

      1. It is unlikely that a successful politician is stupid.

        But it is very likely the politician is not trying to govern but obtain votes, either through grandstanding or kowtowing to some interest that will provide money or media access to votes.

    1. Not convinced it’s an opening shot but they will end up with storing all our web browsing records. In the Guardian’s report it does not mention end-to-end encryption, but refers to:-

      “…..will not require a warrant for the police, security services or other bodies to access the [web browser] data.”

      Apparently a police officer of Inspector rank or above (= not very high ranking) can access the data, but I’m intrigued by what constitutes “other bodies” which will have access to the data?

      Does it amount to world plus dog, or do they have specific bodies in mind such as their outsourced contractors – Capita, Serco etc – the IWF and other Quangos? Conservative Central Office to monitor political dissent? Who precisely?

      1. You are right this is more about emails and Facebook input being held for a year on a server rather than physical technology so I think there is a little too much pant wetting going on especially in regard to iPhones being withdrawn. That WON’T happen. The fundamentals of this Bill are similar to the sorts of things Apple has already compromised on in the likes of China so it would not likely set a precedent in that regard I suspect. This will all be worked out in the end.

  6. Actually, I don’t think they would have any choice. The encryption isn’t just a software feature. It is hardwired into the Ax system-on-a-chip and its secure enclave. Apple Pay and gobs of other Apple Ecosystem features relay on it. If the UK demands what is impossible for the current phones, Apple would have to suspend local sales until it could engineer a less-secure iPhone and supporting software.

    Obviously, China and a lot of other countries would then demand that Apple substitute that model in their markets, too. If China can access an iPhone in China, it will quickly learn how to access one anywhere else as well. So will all the other public and private actors that have been grinding their teeth at their inability to tap iPhone communications.

    I am as worried as Cameron (and far more than any of you) with the public safety consequences of allowing criminals access to uncrackable data storage and communications, but opening up all of our phones to all and sundry isn’t the answer… if there is an answer!

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