iPhone users risk losing iMessage & FaceTime as Apple threatens to pull the plug over security measures

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Apple users in the UK risk losing iMessage & FaceTime as the company threatens to withdraw the features over security measures. 

Apple has threatened to remove services such as FaceTime and iMessage from the UK users after the government proposes sweeping new surveillance measures over mobile messaging services. 

The Rishi Sunak-led government is reportedly planning to review the 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (IPA), which would allow the Home Office the authority to unilaterally examine and disable privacy protections in personal messaging apps to assist with national security and law enforcement. 

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Currently, there must be a review, as well as an independent oversight mechanism, and a technology corporation may appeal before any action is taken. Because of the secrecy surrounding these demands, it is unclear how many have been issued and whether they have been met.

However, many messaging services now include end-to-end encryption, which means that messages can only be decrypted by the devices that transmit and receive them.

WhatsApp and Signal are among the platforms that have spoken out against a provision in the Online Safety Bill that allows the communications regulator to mandate companies to deploy technology to scan encrypted messaging applications and other services for child-abuse material.

The government has launched an eight-week consultation on potential changes to the IPA, which currently allows for the preservation of internet surfing information for 12 months and allows for the mass collecting of personal data.

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Apple has steadfastly opposed the statute, which critics labelled a "snooper's charter" at the time. Its nine-page reply to the present consultation opposes having to notify the Home Office of any modifications to product security features before they are released.

Apple has told the BBC it will not make changes to security features for one country that may harm the device for all consumers. Some changes would necessitate the release of a software update and hence could not be made discreetly.

Apple threatens to remove iMessage & FaceTime from UK audienceApple threatens to remove iMessage & FaceTime from UK audience
Apple threatens to remove iMessage & FaceTime from UK audience | NurPhoto via Getty Images

It said the proposals "constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy" that would affect people outside the UK.

What is 2016 Investigatory Powers Act (IPA)

According to the Government website, The Investigatory Powers Act provides a framework for the use of investigatory powers by the security and intelligence agencies, law enforcement and other public authorities. 

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These powers cover, the interception of communications, the retention and acquisition of communications data, equipment interference for obtaining communications and other data, and the retention and examination of bulk personal datasets.

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