UK blames Apple for issues with iOS 'Brexit' app over lack of iPhone NFC access

Posted:
in iPhone edited November 2018
The United Kingdom is planning to launch an app that allows European Union citizens to apply to stay in the country after Brexit next year, but while it will work with Android devices, officials are reportedly having issues running it on iPhones and iPads.




The UK will be leaving the European Union in March 2019, an event that brings with it numerous challenges, including what happens to EU citizens living in the country. One solution by the government is to create an app that enables the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens to apply for "settled status."

According to the BBC, the app asks three "simple" questions, requires the user take a selfie, and then to scan the contactless chip embedded in the passport to verify their identity. While Android devices are able to use NFC to communicate with the passport chip, the same process cannot be performed on an iPhone.

The passport scanning is required as an authentication procedure, only using the embedded chip to confirm the person's identity. The app is solely for applying for the settled status designation, and while it does acquire data from a passport, it does not become an electronic passport or a form of identification in its own right.

Under the existing situation, those wishing to take part in the scheme but have iPhones will have to borrow someone else's Android device to use the app or post their passport to the UK Visa and Immigration Service for processing, which may take longer than the anticipated two-weeks for an app-based decision.

The UK's Home Office was aware there would be problems with Apple devices at the time of the app's announcement earlier this year, but hoped there would be an update that would free up NFC for passport scanning. Despite requests from ministers and a visit to Apple Park by Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Apple has so far refused to implement the changes.

Apple has largely refrained from opening up NFC from its existing Apple Pay transactions for security purposes, with relatively few non-financial uses permitted. A September update to Core NFC, the iOS system used for such transactions, enabled an NFC tag to open up a specific app for reading it among other changes, but only using a specific set of formats.

While rumors suggested NFC would be unlocked fully to third-party apps as part of iOS 12.1, Apple advised to the BBC this was not true.

Apple is reportedly said to be continuing to work with the Home Office on the app, but sources would not speculate on whether it will be ready in time for the March Brexit deadline. Sources in the Home Office advised "we are continuing to engage with Apple at the highest level."

The issues have led to immigration minister Carloine Nokes expressing frustration at the matter on Tuesday to the Home Affairs Committee. Minsters were advised by Nokes the Home Office could not be blamed for the issue, as Apple "won't release the upgrade we need in order for it to function."

The UK is not the only government who would stand to benefit from being able to scan passports with an iPhone. The Netherlands has also asked for Apple to do the same, which would enable citizens to authenticate themselves using the travel document to access governmental digital services.

Apple has previously expressed an interest in making iPhones work as a passport, with on August patent application suggesting the use of the Secure Enclave and NFC to be used as a form of official identification.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 42
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,932member
    What a well thought through plan, very in keeping with this whole Brexit debacle.
    fotoformatchiagutengelronnwilliamlondonRayz2016lostkiwiargonautleavingthebigganome
  • Reply 2 of 42
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    Perhaps the UK and the Netherlands should be asking themselves how come Apple doesn't deem the current system secure.  I'd put my money on Apple understanding this issue better than they do and after all, this is a rather important issue vis a vis security (see what I did there?  ;))
    edited November 2018 fotoformatchiaronnwilliamlondonberndogjahbladelostkiwiargonautmattinoz
  • Reply 3 of 42
    Predictable response from a UK government department; blame others for their own failure to design correct something within a stated framework. Much like how this government insists that it’s the EU’s job to flex their position to accommodate something the UK voted for.

    Looking forward to the day Scotland frees itself from this ageing, dysfunctional, backward looking kingdom. 
    chiakiltedgreenelijahgronnfotoformatwilliamlondonanton zuykovjahbladejbdragonlostkiwi
  • Reply 4 of 42
    rob53rob53 Posts: 2,051member
    So I can use an Android app to scan anyone's passport and retrieve their data. Sounds great for all those people still creating false passports. Apple Pay is a closed loop system while the BBC article doesn't give any technical specifics on how this information would be protected. Apple Pay requires an initial credit card verification step before using. I don't see that happening with the Brexit app. The selfie is manually checked but that's after the fact. Who's to say someone can't take a photo of someone else, then capture their passport information. Does the UK already have photos of everyone (passport photos can be 10 years old in the US making them almost unidentifiable for many people). If the UK really wanted Apple's help, I'm sure Apple could do something but it would have to be more secure than the simple process described in this article.

    What scares me more was discovering my Costco Citi Visa card has a scannable chip in it so any app with the ability to scan these chips could easily steal my chipped card information and copy it. I thought chipped cards were supposed to be more secure than magnetic strip cards but now I'm seeing they really aren't, especially if I can get a free app from the UK government to scan them.
    ronn
  • Reply 5 of 42
    And what company that provides mobile platform has to do with political problems in EU and UK? Get real. Pretty soon they will demand applications. That is a service and if you do not like platform then move out... or develope yourself including dongles that would do whatever you need.
    ronn
  • Reply 6 of 42
    rob53 said:
    So I can use an Android app to scan anyone's passport and retrieve their data. Sounds great for all those people still creating false passports. Apple Pay is a closed loop system while the BBC article doesn't give any technical specifics on how this information would be protected. Apple Pay requires an initial credit card verification step before using. I don't see that happening with the Brexit app. The selfie is manually checked but that's after the fact. Who's to say someone can't take a photo of someone else, then capture their passport information. Does the UK already have photos of everyone (passport photos can be 10 years old in the US making them almost unidentifiable for many people). If the UK really wanted Apple's help, I'm sure Apple could do something but it would have to be more secure than the simple process described in this article.

    What scares me more was discovering my Costco Citi Visa card has a scannable chip in it so any app with the ability to scan these chips could easily steal my chipped card information and copy it. I thought chipped cards were supposed to be more secure than magnetic strip cards but now I'm seeing they really aren't, especially if I can get a free app from the UK government to scan them.
    If you got someones passport, you don't need a phone to read it, just your eyes...LOL

    Also, you cannot scan a chipped card and clone the chip. The card "shimmers"  are reading the card and cloning the mag-strip, this is why the mag-strip needs to go.
  • Reply 7 of 42
    Yes, Apple will also be resposible for the hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
    williamlondonchialostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 8 of 42
    payecopayeco Posts: 310member
    rob53 said:
    So I can use an Android app to scan anyone's passport and retrieve their data. Sounds great for all those people still creating false passports. Apple Pay is a closed loop system while the BBC article doesn't give any technical specifics on how this information would be protected. Apple Pay requires an initial credit card verification step before using. I don't see that happening with the Brexit app. The selfie is manually checked but that's after the fact. Who's to say someone can't take a photo of someone else, then capture their passport information. Does the UK already have photos of everyone (passport photos can be 10 years old in the US making them almost unidentifiable for many people). If the UK really wanted Apple's help, I'm sure Apple could do something but it would have to be more secure than the simple process described in this article.

    What scares me more was discovering my Costco Citi Visa card has a scannable chip in it so any app with the ability to scan these chips could easily steal my chipped card information and copy it. I thought chipped cards were supposed to be more secure than magnetic strip cards but now I'm seeing they really aren't, especially if I can get a free app from the UK government to scan them.
    You can’t copy a credit card to a fake/counterfeit one from the chip. That’s the whole point of the chip... Reading the chip generates a token good for one payment, after that it’s useless. That chip is for contactless payments. It works the same way Apple Pay does. Any place you can pay with Apple Pay you can tap the card to make your payment instead of having to insert it into the chip reader in the POS terminal. Credit cards in literally every other country in the world have had this functionality for over a decade. 
  • Reply 9 of 42
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,971member
    That's fine. The world and one half of the UK blames the other half of the UK for Brexit. :smiley: 
    edited November 2018 lostkiwiargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 42
    sanssans Posts: 42member
    The issues have led to immigration minister Carloine Nokes expressing frustration at the matter on Tuesday to the Home Affairs Committee. Minsters were advised by Nokes the Home Office could not be blamed for the issue, as Apple "won't release the upgrade we need in order for it to function."
    So let me get this right: They designed an app, knowing that when they designed it, it would not work on Apple devices. However, the Home Office isn't to Blame because they couldn't force Apple to do what they wanted? Do I have this right?
    williamlondonberndogronnjahbladechialostkiwiargonautombra2105leavingthebiggJFC_PA
  • Reply 11 of 42
    Wouldn’t it be hilarious that the Brits cancel brexit and blame Apple as the cause?

    JFC_PA
  • Reply 12 of 42
    mr lizard said:
    Predictable response from a UK government department; blame others for their own failure to design correct something within a stated framework. Much like how this government insists that it’s the EU’s job to flex their position to accommodate something the UK voted for.

    Looking forward to the day Scotland frees itself from this ageing, dysfunctional, backward looking kingdom. 
    Don’t the Brits own a large chunk of land in Scotland and just let them sit there and rot?
    I saw a show years ago in PBS that showed a lot of places that were unkept and the local residents said that Brits owned them and don’t bother to even visit. 
  • Reply 13 of 42
    chrispoe said:
    rob53 said:
    So I can use an Android app to scan anyone's passport and retrieve their data. Sounds great for all those people still creating false passports. Apple Pay is a closed loop system while the BBC article doesn't give any technical specifics on how this information would be protected. Apple Pay requires an initial credit card verification step before using. I don't see that happening with the Brexit app. The selfie is manually checked but that's after the fact. Who's to say someone can't take a photo of someone else, then capture their passport information. Does the UK already have photos of everyone (passport photos can be 10 years old in the US making them almost unidentifiable for many people). If the UK really wanted Apple's help, I'm sure Apple could do something but it would have to be more secure than the simple process described in this article.

    What scares me more was discovering my Costco Citi Visa card has a scannable chip in it so any app with the ability to scan these chips could easily steal my chipped card information and copy it. I thought chipped cards were supposed to be more secure than magnetic strip cards but now I'm seeing they really aren't, especially if I can get a free app from the UK government to scan them.
    If you got someones passport, you don't need a phone to read it, just your eyes...LOL

    Reading? That’s sounds too complicated!
    😂😂😂😂😂
    jahblade
  • Reply 14 of 42
    Good ole BBC, loving Android hating Apple, the whole article is such a piece of partisan crap. This isn't new, the BBC hasn't been an Apple fan since forever that I've been reading them, engaging in the yellow journalistic style of tech bloggers the planet over who participate in the "Apple be bad" juvenile tit-tat *consumer device preference* bias which they see as an all out war, sycophantically aligning themselves with one side over the other. I love the BBC, but sometimes they are just sooooo utterly and completely wrong.
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 15 of 42
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    Good ole BBC, loving Android hating Apple, the whole article is such a piece of partisan crap. This isn't new, the BBC hasn't been an Apple fan since forever that I've been reading them, engaging in the yellow journalistic style of tech bloggers the planet over who participate in the "Apple be bad" juvenile tit-tat *consumer device preference* bias which they see as an all out war, sycophantically aligning themselves with one side over the other. I love the BBC, but sometimes they are just sooooo utterly and completely wrong.
    You are so right.  I witnessed it start back when the BBC micro was released .. was that late 70's or early 80's?  I forget..
    edited November 2018 williamlondonargonaut
  • Reply 16 of 42
    Let me see if I got this right:  

    The UK government designed an app, and by extension, a critical national identification system... all on a rumour of future functionality of IOS. 

    Am I close?

    Did they check with AppleInsider?
  • Reply 17 of 42
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,295member
    Anachr0n said:
    Let me see if I got this right:  

    The UK government designed an app, and by extension, a critical national identification system... all on a rumour of future functionality of IOS. 

    Am I close?

    Did they check with AppleInsider?
    I think they were only ever really concerned that it worked on Android.
  • Reply 18 of 42
    rob53 said:
    So I can use an Android app to scan anyone's passport and retrieve their data. Sounds great for all those people still creating false passports.
    No, you can't do that. First, you can only access the passport if you can see the actual passport page containing personal data (e.g. you can't read it when it's in someone's pocket) because that page contains information required to generate a password needed to access the chip. Second, e-passports contain one or more methods for clone detection. You can't use NFC to copy all the data you need to make a perfect copy, that data is not accessible in any way.
    I'm sure Apple could do something but it would have to be more secure than the simple process described in this article.
    All Apple needs to do is to give full access to the NFC chip. Maybe they don't want to give access because it would make the iPhone insecure. And while it may be simple to the end-user, that doesn't mean that what goes on behind the scenes is simple or insecure. I happen to know a little about e-Passports and it's perfectly possible to make this process secure if you know what you're doing.
    edited November 2018
  • Reply 19 of 42
    payecopayeco Posts: 310member
    mr lizard said:
    Predictable response from a UK government department; blame others for their own failure to design correct something within a stated framework. Much like how this government insists that it’s the EU’s job to flex their position to accommodate something the UK voted for.

    Looking forward to the day Scotland frees itself from this ageing, dysfunctional, backward looking kingdom. 
    Don’t the Brits own a large chunk of land in Scotland and just let them sit there and rot?
    I saw a show years ago in PBS that showed a lot of places that were unkept and the local residents said that Brits owned them and don’t bother to even visit. 
    Wait, what?

    Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. Citizens of the United Kingdom are called British. What you just said was the equivalent of saying ‘don’t the Americans own a large chunk of land in Nevada?’
    berndogchiaargonautwilliamlondon
  • Reply 20 of 42
    saareksaarek Posts: 1,133member
    mr lizard said:
    Predictable response from a UK government department; blame others for their own failure to design correct something within a stated framework. Much like how this government insists that it’s the EU’s job to flex their position to accommodate something the UK voted for.

    Looking forward to the day Scotland frees itself from this ageing, dysfunctional, backward looking kingdom. 
    Yes, Scotlands exit from the UK would have been such a success. The magic money trees would have easily covered the shortfall from London investment........
    argonautentropys
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