Vancouver-based non-profit OpenMedia, a free-internet and digital rights advocate, has created a petition urging Apple to scrap its upcoming Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) detection system, branding the move a complete reversal of Apple’s “position on the importance of the privacy and security of their customers.”
Apple’s proposed CSAM detection system will scan minors’ iMessage conversations for nudity, and media stored on adults’ devices for images classified as Child Sexual Abuse Material.
The measures will be implemented across Apple’s entire ecosystem, including iCloud, creating what OpenMedia says is a “permanent backdoor into every iOS device for law enforcement.”
Apple’s announcement of the new child safety features has given rise to a lot of confusion and overwhelming push-back, with concerns being raised internally as well. Other companies, including even WhatsApp, have said Apple’s approach threatens user privacy and security.
Apple has since made an effort to address concerns surrounding the system with support documents and through executives like Senior Vice President Craig Federighi and the iPhone maker’s head of privacy. Apple maintains that the system will not be prone to false positives, and will not impeach user privacy.
OpenMedia isn’t convinced, however. “iSurveil — the fastest way to give your data to police,” the activist group calls Apple’s new system.
Governments are already showing interest in expanding the scope of this system beyond just CSAM, and once a backdoor is built into a secure system, it just opens up an entirely new avenue for abuse and exploitation.
While combating child sexual abuse is an important issue, is a solution that brings user privacy into question and could invite authoritarian governments to freely breach user privacy really the answer?
OpenMedia says Apple needs to see an “overwhelming response from the public that this change is dangerous and unwanted” to realize it is straying from its mission as a haughtily touted purveyor of user privacy and security, and is encouraging the masses to sign its petition.
Earlier this week, a collective of over 90 activist groups from all over the world expressed similar views in an open letter, asking Apple to drop its plans immediately.