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Apple’s Scan of US iPhones is being signed Against by Thousands

Apple’s recently revealed intention to scan iPhones and iPads for photographs of child sexual abuse saved in the cloud is being criticised by a group of security and privacy tech advocates, who are concerned about privacy and surveillance. A coalition of around three dozen organisations and over 6,600 individuals, including cryptographers, researchers, and security, privacy, and legal professionals, had signed an open letter made public online late last week as of Monday afternoon.

The organisations and individuals expressed their concerns about Apple’s new policy, which allows the company to scan photos stored on some Apple devices for child abuse imagery and report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as disable user accounts if the content is discovered. The open letter’s signatories, on the other hand, warned that the policy could create a “backdoor” for more surveillance.

The letter reads, “While child exploitation is a serious problem, and while efforts to combat it are almost unquestionably well-intentioned, Apple’s proposal introduces a backdoor that threatens to undermine fundamental privacy protections for all users of Apple products.” They expressed particular concern about end-to-end encryption being bypassed and user privacy being jeopardised as a result of Apple’s device checks for child abuse imagery.

They cited worries expressed last week by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which accused Apple of “opening the door to greater abuses,” and the Center for Democracy and Technology, which claimed the policy would be a substantial change from long-held privacy and security norms. Apple should cancel its proposed new policy and release a statement reiterating its commitment to end-to-end encryption and customer privacy, according to the signatories.

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