Apple agrees to open iPhone NFC for UK's Brexit app by end of 2019

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 9
After months of talks and behind-the-scenes negotiation, Apple has agreed to make iPhone's NFC stack available to a UK government app designed to confirm the status of citizens following a planned departure from the European Union.

EU Brexit App
The UK's Home Office created a short video explaining how to use the EU Exit: ID Document Check app.


UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid at the end of March announced the government's Brexit app will work with iPhone by the end of 2019, reports The Guardian.

"I've had numerous conversations with Apple at the highest levels to ensure everyone can use the app," Javid said. "Together we've been working hard to find a solution that will allow the app to work on their devices. I'm pleased to confirm that Apple will be making the necessary changes and the app will be working on their mobile and tablet devices by the end of the year."

The Brexit app is at its core a registration system for the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens who live in the UK. Those who wish to stay after Brexit can apply for "settled status" through the app, first presented last year by the UK's Home Office.

As noted by NFC World, which detailed the EU Exit: ID Document Check app and its capabilities on Tuesday, EU citizens can remotely verify their identity by taking a selfie for facial recognition processing and scanning the security chip embedded in their passport. Due to Apple's strict NFC policies, the app is currently unable to retrieve information from passport chips, meaning users cannot be positively identified on iOS.

Incompatibility with iPhone was a noted issue when the Home Office first announced the project in 2018. In November, the UK government blamed Apple for the app's problems, citing the company's refusal to open iPhone's NFC functionality for passport chip scanning.

At the time, UK officials informed citizens to borrow a friend's Android device to complete the registration process, as smartphones running Google's mobile operating system do not have the same NFC restrictions.





The EU Exit app is one of the easier methods of obtaining settled status in the UK. EU citizens living in the country can also verify their identity by mail or visit a dedicated service center to have their passports scanned.

"Our EU Settlement Scheme is now up and running and after a successful launch, over 280,000 EU citizens have applied so that they can continue to live their lives as they do now," David said, as reported by NFC World.

While Apple is working on a solution, it will likely be unavailable by Brexit's due date on April 12.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    anomeanome Posts: 1,297member
    While Apple is working on a solution, it will likely be unavailable by Brexit's due date on April 12.

    That's OK, Brexit isn't likely to be ready by then, either.

    It's an interesting development in the long running discussion over access to the iPhone's NFC stack. I'm curious as to what, if any, guarantees the UK government had to give over the handling of data through there. I mean, I understand that they're dealing with different information to a bank or a loyalty program, but will any of the organisations after this kind of access before joining Apple Pay be able to use this to try and strengthen their argument?

    chasmGeorgeBMacrandominternetpersonrepressthiswatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    chasmcaladaniancharlesgressphericchiaroundaboutnowlostkiwirepressthisjrg_ukwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 18
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,142member
    anome said:
    While Apple is working on a solution, it will likely be unavailable by Brexit's due date on April 12.

    That's OK, Brexit isn't likely to be ready by then, either.

    It's an interesting development in the long running discussion over access to the iPhone's NFC stack. I'm curious as to what, if any, guarantees the UK government had to give over the handling of data through there. I mean, I understand that they're dealing with different information to a bank or a loyalty program, but will any of the organisations after this kind of access before joining Apple Pay be able to use this to try and strengthen their argument?

    I guess this could well just be coming at WWDC anyway so they can promise for end of year for a something that might not hsppen.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 18
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,673member
    Brexit doesn’t appear to be inevitable, particularly not of late, so this may all be an enormous waste of time (for the UK government — Uroshnor’s informative post, if correct, may point to many good developments to come from this for Apple). Let’s hope.
    fotoformatbonobobcaladanianchiaGeorgeBMaclostkiwiwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,277member
    On the bright side, this is one good thing to have come from this Brexit fiasco.
    mattinozindieshacklostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 18
    JWWJWW Posts: 1member
    A wasted effort. The nutty Torres will lose this one and in the process may lose control of government.

    BREXIT will likely require a second vote of the people and this time they will vote it down.
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 7 of 18
    croprcropr Posts: 961member

    AppleInsider said:
    At the time, UK officials informed citizens to borrow a friend's Android device to complete the registration process, as smartphones running Google's mobile operating system do not have the same NFC restrictions.

    While Apple is working on a solution, it will likely be unavailable by Brexit's due date on April 12.
    The original Brexit date was March 29.
    A friend of mine, a Belgian expat in London, did not want to take the risk and  bought a month ago for the first time in his life an Android phone.  And he told me he wasn't the only one.
    So the position of Apple about the use of NFC on the iPhone is hurting Apple
    muthuk_vanalingamjbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 18
    seanismorrisseanismorris Posts: 1,089member
    It’s not clear why Apple dislikes opening up NFC so much.

    If there are security concerns, I wish Apple would spell them out...

    I’d like to use NFC authentication for 2FA in iOS but the technology is in limbo.

    Apple needs to work on their communication skills...
    muthuk_vanalingamsvanstromindieshack
  • Reply 9 of 18
    seanjseanj Posts: 68member
    Given the U.K. could well be free of the clutches of the EU by the end of 2019 (we might even escape at the end of this week!), then the sooner this functionality is added the better.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 18
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,852member
    seanj said:
    Given the U.K. could well be free of the clutches of the EU by the end of 2019 (we might even escape at the end of this week!), then the sooner this functionality is added the better.
    I am surprised the political class has let it get this far as it is. The referendum was not the outcome they expected. The peasants are revolting!
    at the very least I expected them to require another vote, and another, until the correct outcome was delivered.
    seanjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,154member
    JWW said:
    A wasted effort. The nutty Torres will lose this one and in the process may lose control of government.

    BREXIT will likely require a second vote of the people and this time they will vote it down.
    Hopefully this second vote will be based on fact and reality rather than laced with Russian disinformation.
    (U.S. elections are not the only ones the far right and their Russian allies have been messing with)

    In addition, citizens will have an actual proposal to compare to the pie in the sky promises that Brexit will make the UK great again.

    But, all of that is why the conservatives are dead set on not permitting another referendum:   They know that they'll lose once the people know the facts and the truth.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    uroshnor said:
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    I would like nothing more than to have my government issued IDs in my Apple Wallet. On the other hand, then my device might become more open to scrutiny by customs and border agencies, and even local police. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 18
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 8,588member
    mac_128 said:
    uroshnor said:
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    I would like nothing more than to have my government issued IDs in my Apple Wallet. On the other hand, then my device might become more open to scrutiny by customs and border agencies, and even local police. 
    In Louisiana we already have our state government issued ID on iOS, currently via an app. A new protocol was developed for police stops which employs a hands-off approach. I’ve been pulled over once and so it was. 
    edited April 10 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 18
    blah64blah64 Posts: 941member
    mac_128 said:
    uroshnor said:
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    I would like nothing more than to have my government issued IDs in my Apple Wallet. On the other hand, then my device might become more open to scrutiny by customs and border agencies, and even local police. 
    In Louisiana we already have our state government issued ID on iOS, currently via an app. A new protocol was developed for police stops which employs a hands-off approach. I’ve been pulled over once and so it was. 
    Do tell!  I will be the last person to ever put my state-issued government ID on a mobile device, but I'm quite interested to know what the protocol is in Louisiana, and how it went down for you in a real-world situation.  It's also important to consider how policies evolve and where and how they can be abused.
    GeorgeBMacmac_128watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,154member
    blah64 said:
    mac_128 said:
    uroshnor said:
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    I would like nothing more than to have my government issued IDs in my Apple Wallet. On the other hand, then my device might become more open to scrutiny by customs and border agencies, and even local police. 
    In Louisiana we already have our state government issued ID on iOS, currently via an app. A new protocol was developed for police stops which employs a hands-off approach. I’ve been pulled over once and so it was. 
    Do tell!  I will be the last person to ever put my state-issued government ID on a mobile device, but I'm quite interested to know what the protocol is in Louisiana, and how it went down for you in a real-world situation.  It's also important to consider how policies evolve and where and how they can be abused.
    Yes, I'm interested to hear those details myself.
    But, I suspect it could work a lot the same as emergency information does:   From the touch screen, just tap "emergency" and it gives information needed by EMT in an emergency.

    But, that might be an over simplification because the EMT information is accessible without unlocking the phone and many would feel uncomfortable having things like their address and driver's license number accessible from an unlocked phone.   Because, for instance, a thief who stole your phone would know which house was likely empty and open for business.
    ... So, perhaps it would require an "unlock light"?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,449member
    blah64 said:
    mac_128 said:
    uroshnor said:
    So the article does not really describe likely what’s is happening.

    Right now , iOS reads NDEF format over NFC, and can respond in a few other formats. (And its pretty strict, it doesn’t do Smart Posters for example, which are a modification of NDEF).

    E-Passports can be encoded in as few different ways, but most are BAC encoded. This means the NFC data is an encrypted blob, and the encryption key is derived from the data on the photo page.

    That’s why at a check in kiosk, you usually put your e-Passport face down and the photo page is being scanned concurrently with reading the chip.

    If you try it today, the Phone realists the epassport is there, but it rejects the encrypted data as invalidly formatted.

    Apple doesn’t need to open up access to the NFC subsystem to read an e-passport, they just need to add an API that supports reading the common encrypted passport formats (eg reading a BAC e-Passport with a supplied key). If they were being super slick, they’d have an API that extracted the key material from an image of the photograph page in the vision framework, and you could pass that straight on to the CoreNFC code.

    If they can do that its super-slick flow, and may even enable Apple Wallet to hold government grade identity cards.

    I would like nothing more than to have my government issued IDs in my Apple Wallet. On the other hand, then my device might become more open to scrutiny by customs and border agencies, and even local police. 
    In Louisiana we already have our state government issued ID on iOS, currently via an app. A new protocol was developed for police stops which employs a hands-off approach. I’ve been pulled over once and so it was. 
    Do tell!  I will be the last person to ever put my state-issued government ID on a mobile device, but I'm quite interested to know what the protocol is in Louisiana, and how it went down for you in a real-world situation.  It's also important to consider how policies evolve and where and how they can be abused.
    Putting ones faith in self-administered “Protocols” is naive for a technology which integrates so closely with our personal and private lives.

    Unless the “protocols” are constitutional, then even legislated and legal rulings thereof can be overturned overnight between a relatively benign government, to an outwardly fascist one. Do “emergency” conditions exist which allow the suspension of “protocols”? A deep red US conservative state is the last place I’d want the government to have any excuse to access my personal data, especially if I were a member of the minority population. Affluent, middle-aged, straight white men have little to worry about in such places today, but it would be interesting to see whether a government that openly discriminated against them would elicit the embrace of technology with the mere premise of “protocols” to protect them.
    edited April 11 GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 31,417member
    JWW said:
    A wasted effort. The nutty Torres will lose this one and in the process may lose control of government.

    BREXIT will likely require a second vote of the people and this time they will vote it down.
    Not a Brit here, but I don’t see that happening. Their dysfunctional leadership has failed to carry out the will of their voters and I don’t think the people who voted “leave” have changed their minds.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 5,154member
    JWW said:
    A wasted effort. The nutty Torres will lose this one and in the process may lose control of government.

    BREXIT will likely require a second vote of the people and this time they will vote it down.
    Not a Brit here, but I don’t see that happening. Their dysfunctional leadership has failed to carry out the will of their voters and I don’t think the people who voted “leave” have changed their minds.
    They voted based on pie in the sky promises of greatness -- bolstered by a Russian disinformation campaign to swing the vote (sound familiar?)

    Now, 4 million people have petitioned and hundreds of thousands have marched for the right to vote on the real proposal without the Russians spinning things for them.

    But another vote is the LAST thing the conservatives want -- because they know they'll lose.   So, they spout the line "The people have spoken".

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