Apple’s CSAM scanning feature sounds like a good thing on paper. With the reach that Apple has, they can no doubt do some good work when it comes to contributing to the detection of such illicit material, maybe even saving some lives in the process. However, the potential for abuse has led to many to voice out their concerns.
You would think that governments would actually be thrilled with this feature, but it seems that not all of them are. According to a report from Heise Online, it appears that the German government has expressed some concern over it. This is according to Manuel Hoferlin, the Digital Agenda committee chairman, who feels that Apple is going down a “dangerous path” and that it could undermine “safe and confidential communication”.
It should be noted that Apple’s CSAM scanning feature will only be limited to the US when it launches, at least for now, but despite that, Hoferlin feels like this has the potential to become the “largest surveillance instrument of history”.
Apple has attempted to assuage concerns by saying that their system will be open to audit by third-parties, and that they will also allow users to inspect the root hash database and compare it against the database in the Knowledge Base article. They also say that users can choose not to have their photos scanned by turning off iCloud Photos, meaning that there are options for users to opt out if they’re not comfortable.