Apple seems to have run into trouble with its employees, as they are raising concerns over the fact that repressive governments could exploit upcoming software that could scan iPhones to detect child sex abuse, as per a report by Reuters on Thursday.
Can The Feature Help Censor And Arrest People?
For the unversed, Apple Inc. is toying with the idea of launching a new software, which will allow for the scanning of iPhones and their applications, most notable iPhotos, to detect any possible materials pertaining to child sexual abuse. The same could be rolled out by the end of this year, reports first released on August 5 state. While the idea has been met with multiple concerns from a number of tech firms and their CEOs, including Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart, Apple’s own employees too, have joined the bandwagon of calling the move out.
An internal Slack channel has been created about the issue, and over 800 messages have already been sent on the same. The basic worry is that the feature has the potential of being exploited by “repressive governments” to keep tabs on their citizens, so that they can “censor or arrest people.” Meanwhile, one can’t ignore the fact that there are also those staff members who have disagreed with the criticism, and still others who feel that such discussions should not be carried out on Slack.
Have Always Refused Demands
When Insider tried to reach out to the company for comment, Apple refused to issue a statement, and instead referred to a FAQ, which details how the product will be able to scan only those photos that are stored onto iCloud, and also claims that Apple doesn’t plan on sharing the data with law enforcement before conducting a human review. Also added is a reference to how the company has already been met with demands by governmental authorities for such software in the past, and has always refused.
This isn’t the first time that security changes at Apple have resulted in raised eyebrows. But this time around, it seems that even the employees themselves are surprised by the sheer volume and duration of the debate. So far, some 5,000 individuals and organizations have signed an open letter, which implores Apple to backtrack and reflect on the new feature, claiming that it can “undermine fundamental privacy protections,” for all Apple users. It remains to be seen if these concerns will hold true or not.