Changes to iCloud Put Apple on Collision Course With Governments Seeking Access to Encrypted Messages

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Jul 20, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple has sent its top privacy executives to Australia twice in the past month to lobby government officials over proposed new laws that would require companies to provide access to encrypted messages.

    According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Apple privacy advocates met with attorney general George Brandis and senior staff in Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's office on Tuesday to discuss their concerns about the legal changes, which could compel tech companies to provide decryption keys to allow access to secure communications such as that provided by WhatsApp and iMessage.

    Apple has consistently argued against laws that would require tech companies to build so-called "back doors" into their software, claiming that such a move would weaken security for everyone and simply make terrorists and criminals turn to open-source encryption methods for their digital communications.

    While Apple's position is clear, the Turnbull government has yet to clarify exactly what it expects tech companies to give up as part of the proposals. A source familiar with the discussions said that the government explicitly said it did not want a back door into people's phones, nor to weaken encryption.

    However, given that encrypted services like WhatsApp and iMessage do not possess private keys that would enable them to decrypt messages, a back door would seem the only alternative. "If the government laid a subpoena to get iMessages, we can't provide it," CEO Tim Cook said in 2014. "It's encrypted and we don't have a key."

    As it happens, Cook's comment only applies to iMessages that aren't backed up to the cloud: Apple doesn't have access to messages sent between devices because they're end-to-end encrypted, but if iCloud Backup is enabled those messages are encrypted on Apple's servers using an encryption key that the company has access to and could potentially provide to authorities.

    However, Apple is moving in the same direction as WhatsApp and Telegram to make encryption keys entirely private. As announced at WWDC in June, macOS High Sierra and iOS 11 will synchronize iMessages across devices signed into the same account using iCloud and a new encryption method that ensures the keys stay out of Apple's hands.

    As senior VP of software Craig Federighi noted in interview with Daring Fireball's John Gruber, even if users store information in the cloud, "it's encrypted with keys that Apple doesn't have. And so they can put things in the cloud, they can pull stuff down from the cloud, so the cloud still serves as a conduit -- and even ultimately a kind of a backup for them -- but only they can read it."

    How this will play out in Apple's discussions with the Australian government - and indeed other governments in the "Five Eyes" intelligence sharing network seeking similar access to encrypted communications - is anything but clear. According to sources, Apple and the Turnbull government are taking a collaborative approach in the discussions, but previous statements by officials imply a tougher stance behind the scenes.

    Last week, Senator Brandis said the Australian government would work with companies such as Apple to facilitate greater access to secure communications, but warned that "we'll also ensure that the appropriate legal powers, if need be, as a last resort, coercive powers of the kind that recently were introduced into the United Kingdom under the Investigatory Powers Act... are available to Australian intelligence and law enforcement authorities as well".

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Changes to iCloud Put Apple on Collision Course With Governments Seeking Access to Encrypted Messages
  2. Chicane-UK macrumors 6502

    Apr 26, 2008
    It really is an amazing state of affairs when it comes down to corporations like Apple to actually protect the rights of citizens, whilst the governments we elect are trying to undo those rights.
  3. soupcan macrumors 6502a


    Nov 21, 2014
    Only thinking of their own good huh. "Add in a back door, but only for us!" yeah that's not how it works Skippy. You don't have an Australian iOS and an US iOS and a rest-of-the-world iOS. It's one OS and if you build in back doors for one person everybody will have access to it. Bad guys and bad guys. End of story.
  4. Sunny1990 Suspended


    Feb 13, 2015
    Apple is doing Good here. Having all the access in the world is not going to make us any safer
  5. djcerla macrumors 68000


    Apr 23, 2015
    As a kid raised in the 70s when good and evil used to be clear-cut, I place Apple firmly in the Good camp. Especially under the Cook tenure.
  6. Jsameds macrumors 68040

    Apr 22, 2008
    Governments: Decrypt all the messages! It will stop terrorists!

    Companies: OK here you go

    Terrorists: lol we'll just use something else then..

    General public: So we've just lost our right to privacy for nothing? o_O And you're going to give this access to every single future government as well, including the untrustworthy ones? Jesus H. Christ, who's the bigger threat again??
  7. SarcasticJoe macrumors 6502a


    Nov 5, 2013
    With the tax dodging they've been doing and refusing to give up or admit was wrong in any shape or form I wouldn't put them in the "good" camp, the "gray" camp maybe, but not the "good" camp.
  8. sdz macrumors 6502

    May 28, 2014
  9. Quu macrumors 68030


    Apr 2, 2007
    I really hope Apple and their contemporaries refuse to alter their encryption in Australia. Encrypted messages need to stay that way without compromise. It would send a stronger message to disable iMessage, WhatsApp and so on entirely in Australia and have their people vote out these government ministers than it would to alter the safety of their messaging platform.

    With so many people using iPhones and Australias compelled voting system it could result in ministers losing their seats over a phone, stranger things have happened.
  10. Plutonius macrumors 604


    Feb 22, 2003
    New Hampshire, USA
  11. macintoshmac, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017

    macintoshmac macrumors 68030


    May 13, 2010
    The collective governments of the world have lost their minds. India and South East has suffered a lot at the hands of terrorists and it takes one guy to bomb America and governments across the entire world go crazy not over terrorism but user privacy? Insane. Whatever happened to good old police work? Intelligence agencies? Why do you need to snoop in on every bit of data transmitted in the world?

    Focus on terrorism and terrorists, not try and snoop on every single citizen of the world on the premise of terrorism.

    NOT everyone, repeat, NOT EVERYONE is planning a terror attack, and those who do, almost always manage a way out, while governments stay stuck in such stupid affairs in the name of prevention of terrorism and harass the general public and violate their rights.
  12. justperry macrumors G3


    Aug 10, 2007
    In the core of a black hole.
    I consider the USA, UK and Australia as one (cronies), at least the EU has the balls to make new laws concerning people's right to encryption and no built in backdoors.
  13. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    Wouldn't be the first time that politicians talk about stuff they have no idea about ;)
  14. iapplelove macrumors 601


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    Not that I'm up to no good...but the internet just isn't as fun as it use to be.
  15. apolloa macrumors G4

    Oct 21, 2008
    Time, because it rules EVERYTHING!
    Jesus..... GCHQ have stated Russian backed hackers accessed the UKs electricity utility companies, and people are crying about security services accessing their worthless messages..

    Sorry, but I'm in full support of the government.
  16. CaTOAGU macrumors 6502a

    Jul 15, 2008
    Manchester, UK
    That isn't going to work, there's a concerted, almost global effort to undermine end to end encrypted communications, most notably by the Five Eyes Network, which comprises, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Kingdom and the United States. If they pull out of Australia they'll still have to deal with the other four and there are other nations too that want this kind of access. The only play they have, that any of us have, is to continually point out the folly of their plans and resist.
  17. dmunz macrumors regular

    Aug 24, 2010
    Isn't this a big part of what killed Blackberry?* The day RIM caved in and opened their servers to governments they lost their edge with Blackberry Messenger. Not sure how accurate it is, but I think I recall reading that Blackberry were once the number one phone for youth in the Middle East because of messenger's security.

    I do remember when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) threatened to shut off access to Blackberry phones. The company I worked for had people traveling in KSA and we needed to make sure they had an alternate means of communication just in case.

    This is just another round in the privacy vs security (individuals vs governments) continuing struggle.


    * I get that RIM (Blackberry) tried too hard to be something they were not with the phones but I suspect that was a result of a need created by people fleeing to other platforms once they lost the privacy edge.
  18. robinp macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    These two things have very little in common. The only parallel is that an intentional back door is likely to increase chances of being hacked.

    Creating a back door will in no way stop russian backed hackers accessing our infrastructure!
  19. CJM macrumors 65816


    May 7, 2005
    "Here's this completely separate discussion that I'm going to use to support my argument in favour of the removal of encrypted messaging."
    How do you survive making logical leaps like that?
  20. one more macrumors 6502a

    one more

    Aug 6, 2015
    Back to Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
  21. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    These are challenges every company implementing encryption in their product are facing.
  22. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    That's not at all what killed Blackberry.

    What killed Blackberry was 2 things. First, they refused to change. While the iPhone came and brought an entirely new way to use your phone, they didn't bother to head that direction, even when Android too blew up and showed that was the way everyone was headed.

    They also required the use of their mail system and hardware at a large cost. When the iPhone and Android could let anyone use their own mail server or 3rd party mail service (Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc), Blackberry required corporations to pay them to use the Blackberry-owned mail servers or at least route through them.
  23. Robert.Walter macrumors 65816

    Jul 10, 2012
    Not really so amazing when you are willing to recognize that, as presently in the USA, nearly a controlling majority of the federal elected officials are captured by minority special interests and do not act in the interest of the people.
  24. Piggie macrumors G3


    Feb 23, 2010
    I'm 100% sure the UK government would back down to Apple, if Apple keeps it's balls and says NO.

    Can you imagine the outcome of the government to it's voters, saying, All apple products are banned from sale and use in the UK.

    Simply would never happen.
  25. chrono1081 macrumors 604


    Jan 26, 2008
    Isla Nublar

    Then you're easily fooled. Not only is putting in a backdoor making the encrypted service 100% useless, and allowing every user of the service to be potentially exploited when a hacker finds the backdoor, but it's also going to push terrorists to create their own system.

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