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Apple boss Tim Cook vows to fight 'snooper's charter'

Published 11/11/2015

Apple CEO Tim Cook was answering questions from students at Trinity College Dublin
Apple CEO Tim Cook was answering questions from students at Trinity College Dublin

The boss of Apple has said he will try to convince the Government to revise plans for hard-hitting spy laws.

Tim Cook vowed to deepen his fight against the wide-ranging snooper's charter and reiterated his tech company's commitment to pressing ahead with end-to-end encryption to protect customers' and users' data.

The Investigatory Powers Bill will force firms to give spies access to people's smartphones and computers and assist intelligence agencies when warrants are granted to intercept communications.

Answering questions from students at Trinity College Dublin, Mr Cook said Apple was not in the business of gathering data on customers' habits or what makes their "juices flow".

"We plan to continue to encrypt end to end with no back door," he said.

"We will productively work with the governments to try to convince them that's also in their best interests in the national security sense."

Mr Cook insisted the iMessage service, one of the two-way encrypted services that faces being bound by Home Secretary Theresa May's laws on bulk communications interception, will be encrypted as intended.

He added: "All of us I think would say we want to be secure and we wanted bad guys shipped off somewhere.

"The problem is that the reality of today is that the hackers are everywhere. There are people who want to take your data.

"There are bad governments in the world, there are bad people in the world and if you leave a back door in the software then there's no such thing as a back door for the good guys only.

"If there's a back door anybody can come in.

"We believe the safest approach for the world is to encrypt end to end, with no back door. We think that protects the most people."

Despite Mr Cook's reservations about opening data and internet records of every UK citizen to intelligence services, Ms May has given assurances that the legislation "will not ban encryption or do anything to undermine the security of people's data".

The boss of the world's biggest tech firm was in Ireland to announce plans to take the workforce in the country to 6,000 and collect a gold medal award as honorary patron of the Trinity College Philosophical Society.

Apple and the Irish Republic, often criticised for allowing the US-headquarted firm to save billions in tax, is awaiting a ruling from the European Commission on whether legal tax deals were done with Apple when it set up there in the 1980s.

Mr Cook declined to take a question on tax issues as he left the university event.

One light -hearted moment in the Q&A arose when Mr Cook offered one of his more startling tech predictions by telling the packed exam hall: "Your kids will not know what money is."

A concerned president of the Phil Ludivine Rebet, who chaired the Q&A, said: "That's a bit scary."

Mr Cook was also on hand to give a student who works in PC World advice on how he could encourage shoppers to spend more money on an Apple product.

"A PC you have to pay someone to take away, a Mac you can actually sell," he said.

On the business front, Mr Cook also predicted that consumer demand for the iPad would return to growth again and that the new iPad Pro would be key to that.

Mr Cook, who was wearing an Apple Watch and used notes on his iPad Pro for his speech, also gave his opinion on a big rival tablet, the Microsoft Surface Book.

The Apple chief described the concept as "sort of deluded".

"My view on the Surface is very simple and straightforward. I don't believe in a product that tries to hard to do too much," he said.

"With the Surface, you have two operating systems essentially. So it's trying to be a tablet and it's trying to be a notebook. That's cool to do from some respects but the result, I think the overall result, is that it's not the best tablet and it's not the best notebook.

"It's sort of a deluded kind of thing. You find it not being good on either."

Mr Cook added: "That's my opinion. You may have a different one, that's OK, the world is full of them."

Mr Cook also said Apple's relationship with Microsoft was much better now than it had been.

Online Editors

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