Apple threatens to remove two key iPhone features if UK law is passed

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(Image credit: Future)

Apple has made clear its opposition to the UK government's proposed changes to the Investigatory Powers Act (IPA) 2016, even threatening to remove certain features from its iPhones and other devices if the amendments go ahead.

FaceTime and iMessage are two of the services Apple could withdraw. It claims that the changes would weaken security and privacy, and so would rather not offer its services than put customers at risk: "[The proposals] constitute a serious and direct threat to data security and information privacy," it said (as reported by the BBC).

The government wants the change in law in order to allow enforcement agencies access to a user's messaging and call data. This would mean services that use end-to-end encryption at a device level would have to remove those protections entirely, potentially exposing all user communications to third-party access.

In addition, it will demand that technology and app companies have to clear their security features with UK government watchdogs before deploying them.

This is unacceptable to Apple, plus other services that offer such security features, like WhatsApp and Signal. Indeed, the latter has threatened to withdraw from the UK entirely.

As part of the review into the proposals, Apple has submitted a strongly-worded consultation document. It says that it opposes having to inform the government of changes in security features prior to release. It also says that it will not make security changes just for one country, especially when it weakens the security and privacy functionality for other users around the world.

It would rather remove its affected services from the UK entirely - which is hardly an ideal scenario for the country or its millions of Apple device users.

Apple has already begrudgingly accepted the EU's demands that all portable devices are charged through the same method - via USB-C. This will result in the iPhone 15 series all adopting USB-C ports rather than the traditional Lightning.

It will also likely have to change its battery tech in the near future, with another EU directive coming that will ensure all mobile devices have batteries that can be easily removed and repaired.

This UK-only law though may be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Rik Henderson
News Editor

Rik is T3’s news editor, which means he looks after the news team and the up-to-the-minute coverage of all the hottest gadgets and products you’ll definitely want to read about. And, with more than 35 years of experience in tech and entertainment journalism, including editing and writing for numerous websites, magazines, and newspapers, he’s always got an eye on the next big thing.

Rik also has extensive knowledge of AV, TV streaming and smart home kit, plus just about everything to do with games since the late 80s. Prior to T3, he spent 13 years at Pocket-lint heading up its news team, and was a TV producer and presenter on such shows as Channel 4's GamesMaster, plus Sky's Games World, Game Over, and Virtual World of Sport.