Just recently, Apple announced that they will be introducing a new photo scanning feature for its iPhones. This photo scanning feature will basically scan photos stored on iPhones for potential child abuse. This sounds like a good thing as it means that it will be easier for authorities to track these abusers down.
However, many have pointed out that this is a very fine line that Apple is about to cross that could have huge implications. Former NSA consultant Edward Snowden is one of them where he has slammed the new feature, claiming that as well-intentioned as it is, it is essentially Apple rolling out mass surveillance to the entire world.
No matter how well-intentioned, @Apple is rolling out mass surveillance to the entire world with this. Make no mistake: if they can scan for kiddie porn today, they can scan for anything tomorrow.
They turned a trillion dollars of devices into iNarcs—*without asking.* https://t.co/wIMWijIjJk
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 6, 2021
He isn’t alone in his sentiments as others have also come forward with their own objections and concerns, like Daniel Bostic, who suggested that if this could be used to identify photos of child abuse, who’s to say that governments won’t take advantage of the system to identify anti-government photos.
No one is defending explicit pictures of minors but this is category 5 insane.
How long until this is used to scan your phone for anti-government photos?
How long till authorities in the middle east use this to track down LGBT people?
How easy will it be to frame someone? https://t.co/tmFIrTTBH2
— Daniel Bostic (@debostic) August 5, 2021
That being said, while some of these points are valid, 9to5Mac’s Benjamin Mayo points out that social media networks have already been doing this for years, as have other cloud photo services. We suppose the point of contention here is that Apple has always tried to bill themselves as being a consumer privacy-focused company, but this doesn’t really feel like it.
If the new Apple photo scanning stuff was looking at any and all photos stored on your device, I think there’d be somewhat of an ethical debate to be had. But it’s just applied to iCloud Photos, which makes it no different than any other major web service or social network.
— Benjamin Mayo (@bzamayo) August 5, 2021