France to penalize Apple €1M for each iPhone it refuses to decrypt
France is looking to put in place a fine of one million Euros ($1.08 million USD) for each iPhone, if they refused to hack into smartphones belonging to terrorists. This move is similar to the one where Apple is involved in a legal battle with the US government wherein the latter is demanding that Apple unlock the encrypted iPhone of a gunman in the deadly San Bernardino shootings.
However, Apple could potentially get away with this, thanks to a recent in a different case, in which Apple was cleared by a judge who said that Apple did not have to unlock the iPhone. Apple’s recent court victory suggests it is slowly but surely winning its battle to maintain iPhone privacy in the U.S.
On Monday, French Socialist MP Yann Galut proposed an amendment to French law that – if passed – would see the US companies (Apple, Google and other tech companies) punished if they didn’t give French officials backdoor access to terrorists’ phones that are encrypted. His “Apple amendment” covers all manufacturers of communications devices, internet providers and telecommunications operators. French politicians are looking to implement a fine to provide a good reason for the companies to comply.
In France last year, there were eight phones that were inaccessible to police – all tied in some way to terror attacks, reports Le Parisien.
Speaking to Le Parisien, Galut was quoted as saying, “We are faced with a legal vacuum when it comes to data encryption, and it’s blocking judicial investigations. Only money will force these extremely powerful companies like Apple and Google to comply. They are hiding behind a supposed privacy protection, but they’re quick to make commercial use of personal data that they’re collecting.”
He stressed that his proposed amendment would not affect the privacy of the common public, only those who are under investigation.
Many tech companies have come out in support of Apple. At a tech conference in Paris last week, Google chief Sundar Pichai expressed his support for Apple in its standoff with the FBI, warning that creating so-called “backdoors” into encrypted communications could have “bad consequences”.
“We want to take a very strong stance against any form of backdoor whatsoever,” Pichai said during the conference at the Sciences Po university.
“When you create backdooors it leads to very, very bad consequences which always ends up harming users.”
Apple’s fight against the US government also saw the support of a number of Silicon Valley firms, with Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg saying Monday that he was “pretty sympathetic” with Apple’s predicament.
While it remains to be seen if this proposed change to the law will be approved, however, there is no doubt that the way the case is resolved in the US will influence how other countries and governments might approach the issue.