What’s behind the protests against Apple over CSAM software?

TECHNOLOGY. A photo provided by Apple Inc. shows the brand’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Greg Joswiak, speaking about the new iPhone 13 Pro in California on September 14, 2021. | Photo: Efe.

One day before the launch of the Iphone 13, protests were held in the United States in Apple stores in various states to demand that the company permanently rule out installing photo and message scanning software on the brand’s devices, with a clear reference to CSAM.

The context: The protests, although not massive, were spread throughout social networks. They were organized by Fight for the Future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and activists in cities such as Boston, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, Aventura and Houston.

  • The posters carried by the protesters read phrases such as “No more spyware on our phones.”
  • CSAM is a Child Sexual Abuse Material detection technology that has raised serious privacy concerns among users.
  • One of the features alerted parents if their children sent or received sexually explicit images; and another scans the photos into iCloud and reports any infringing content to Apple moderators.
  • Critics added that the image-scanning capability could function as a back door to new surveillance and censorship.

What do they say? “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time, over the next several months, to gather information and make improvements before launching these critical child safety features.” Apple said in a statement to The Hill.

  • The company claimed that cloud image scanning was “designed with user privacy in mind,” and that it would analyze each image before marking the material as sexual content.


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