OpenMedia, a Vancouver-based nonprofit advocate for digital rights and the free internet, has created a petition urging Apple to ditch its upcoming child pornography detection system (CSAM), calling the move a complete reversal of “Apple’s stance on the importance of customer privacy and security.”
Apple’s proposed CSAM detection system will scan iMessage conversations of minors looking for nudity and media stored on adult devices for images classified as child sexual abuse material.
The measures will be implemented across Apple’s ecosystem, including iCloud, creating what OpenMedia says is a “permanent backdoor in every iOS device for law enforcement.”
Apple’s announcement of the new child safety features sparked a lot of confusion and overwhelming reactions, with concerns raised internally as well. Other companies, including WhatsApp, have said Apple’s approach threatens user privacy and security.
Apple has since made an effort to address concerns about the system with support documents and through executives like senior vice president Craig Federighi and the iPhone maker’s chief privacy officer. Apple maintains that the system will not be prone to false positives and will not infringe on user privacy.
OpenMedia is not convinced, however. “ISurveil – the fastest way to get your data to the police,” the activist group calls Apple’s new system.
Governments are already showing interest in expanding the reach of this system beyond CSAM, and once a backdoor is integrated into a secure system, it simply opens up a whole new avenue for abuse and exploitation.
While the fight against child sexual abuse is an important issue, is a solution that challenges user privacy and could invite authoritarian governments to freely violate 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 that it is deviating from its mission as a haughty provider of user privacy and security, and encourages the masses to sign his petition.
Earlier this week, a collective of more than 90 activist groups around the world expressed similar views in an open letter, asking Apple to immediately drop its plans.