Skip to main content

Apple concerned that UK Snooper’s Charter will hurt law-abiding citizens

how to save text messages
The Investigatory Powers Bill, a third draft of the infamous Snooper’s Charter, is currently at the committee stage in the House of Commons. The bill covers a variety of Internet security issues, including encryption, hacking, and surveillance, and Apple doesn’t like it at all.

In a submission to the bill committee, Apple expressed concerns that the bill harms law-abiding citizens, will run into conflict with foreign laws, and weakens security for millions of iMessage users.

“We believe it would be wrong to weaken security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers so that it will also be weaker for the very few who pose a threat,” Apple said in the submission.

Banning end-to-end encryption would force Apple to pull iMessage or remove the encryption, weakening security on the messaging service.

“The creation of backdoors and intercept capabilities would weaken the protections built into Apple products and endanger all our customers,” said Apple. “A key left under the doormat would not just be there for the good guys. The bad guys would find it too.”

Part of the bill states that businesses must help the government hack into computers worldwide, another part Apple doesn’t like. “It would place businesses like Apple — whose relationship with customers is in part built on a sense of trust about how data will be handled — in a very difficult position.”

Apple sees inevitable foreign conflict over hacking into accounts outside of the Britain. The U.K.’s intelligence agency GCHQ has already hacked into corporations in Europe, like Gemalto and Belgacom, with the help of the U.S. counterpart, the NSA.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron claims that Daesh, the Islamic State, is using encrypted messaging to recruit and plot attacks, but recent information seems to suggest the Paris attacks were coordinated through SMS messages. Daesh members also regularly post on Facebook and Twitter, showing a lack of fear over the Western government’s tracking abilities.

It is not the first time Apple has spoke against the Snooper’s Charter, in November, chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview with The Telegraph that “any backdoor is a backdoor for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a backdoor can have very dire consequences.”

Tim Cook has defended the use of encryption in the U.S. as well, most recently on 60 Minutes.

Andrews & Arnold chief executive Adrian Kennard commented last month saying that the Snooper’s Charter would raise the cost of broadband in the U.K., since ISPs must hold user information for 12 months.

The Snooper’s Charter was pushed in 2013 by home secretary Theresa May, but the Liberal Democrats blocked it. The bill returned shortly after the Conservatives re-election in 2015 — this time winning by a majority.

David Curry
Former Digital Trends Contributor
David has been writing about technology for several years, following the latest trends and covering the largest events. He is…
One of our favorite Android phones just got its own iMessage app
Nothing Chats app on a. phone.

Nothing is trying to bridge the great blue/green bubble divide for Android users of iMessage. This is not a personal crusade to shatter walls and open windows, as much as Nothing CEO Carl Pei would want you to believe that. Instead, Nothing is piggybacking on tech created by New York-based startup Sunbird. 
Technically, the Sunbird app can be installed on any Android phone and it features a blue bubble for all iMessage text exchanges involving an Android phone. No more green bubble shame that could get you kicked out of groups for disrupting the harmony or even slim your dating chances. That’s how bad it is! 
Nothing is adopting the Sunbird tech and bundling it as its very own app under the name Nothing Chats. But here’s the fun part. The app only works on the Nothing Phone 2 and not the Nothing Phone 1. And this life-altering boon will only be bestowed upon users in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., or the EU bloc.

The app is currently in the beta phase, which means some iMessage features will be broken or absent. Once the app is downloaded on your Nothing Phone 2, you can create a new account or sign up with your Apple ID to get going with blue bubble texts. 
Just in case you’re concerned, all messages will be end-to-end encrypted, and the app doesn’t collect any personal information, such as the users’ geographic location or the texts exchanged. Right now, Sunbird and Nothing have not detailed the iMessage features and those that are broken. 
We made iMessage for Android...
The Washington Post tried an early version of the Nothing Chats app and notes that the blue bubble system works just fine. Texts between an Android device and an iPhone are neatly arranged in a thread, and multimedia exchange is also allowed at full quality. 
However, message editing is apparently not available, and a double-tap gesture for responding with a quick emoji doesn’t work either. We don’t know when these features will be added. Nothing's Sunbird-based app will expand to other territories soon. 
Sunbird, however, offers a handful of other tricks aside from serving the iMessage blue bubble on Android. It also brings all your other messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, in one place. This isn’t an original formula, as Beeper offers the same convenience.

Read more
I love Apple, but it’s totally wrong about iMessage and RCS
An iPhone 15 Pro showing the main iMessage screen.

I’ve been using an iPhone ever since 2008, starting with the original and then every generation since. For several years, the iPhone was only capable of SMS texting, with MMS support arriving with iOS 3 in 2009.

But in 2011, Apple created something new: iMessage. It first arrived on iOS and then went to the Mac in 2012 to replace iChat. iMessage is basically an instant messaging service that is exclusive to all Apple products: iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac. You can send text, images and video, documents, rich preview links, stickers, and more between one another. You can also see if a message is delivered, send read receipts (if you want), and everything is encrypted. With iOS 16, you can even edit and unsend messages within a certain time frame.

Read more
iMessage was down today, but it’s now back to normal
Apple Messages opened on iPhone 13 Pro Max

Apple's iMessage — one of the biggest reasons to use an iPhone — was having some trouble today.

Apple's official System Status website confirmed that an iMessage issue began at 11:50 a.m. ET. The issue was listed as "ongoing" for multiple hours, with Apple noting that "users may be unable to send or download attachments in iMessage."

Read more