Civil and human rights groups ask Apple to abandon its plan to scan phones
Apple’s decision to start “scanning children’s messages for nudity and the phones of adults for images of child sex abuse” has raised serious concerns among privacy activists around the world. Now, 90 of those organizations are asking Apple to stop its planned scanning initiative:
Once this capability is built into Apple products, the company and its competitors will face enormous pressure — and potentially legal requirements — from governments around the world to scan photos not just for CSAM, but also for other images a government finds objectionable. Those images may be of human rights abuses, political protests, images companies have tagged as “terrorist” or violent extremist content, or even unflattering images of the very politicians who will pressure the company to scan for them. And that pressure could extend to all images stored on the device, not just those uploaded to iCloud. Thus, Apple will have laid the foundation for censorship, surveillance and persecution on a global basis.
In other words, Apple is setting a precedent for scanning its phones. Authoritarians of all stripes can be counted on to use this precedent to demand searches for whatever they wish.
And Apple will have no choice but to agree. It’s bad enough the company’s roll-out of the planned scan was botched. That hurt its credibility, which in the marketplace, is as valuable as any flashy new iPhone…and much, much harder to replace. But giving the state a road map for how to implement wide ranging spying on people? That’s dangerous.