Some companies saw the new technology introduced by the tech giant as a threat to user privacy.
On Thursday, August 5, Apple unveiled a new advance for combating Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). The technology was said to help counter predators who could exploit communication tools to recruit and exploit children.
Before an image is uploaded on iCloud Photos, a system would scan them for CSAM correlations.
If a suspicious photo is detected, inspectors will assess it and report the user to law enforcement, according to Apple.
However, critics have noticed that this advancement could be exploited for other less honorable purposes besides protecting children. As BBC reported, it could be otherwise used by the government to monitor citizens.
WhatsApp head Will Cathcart was among the skeptics who alleged that “there are so many problems with this approach.”
“Apple has long needed to do more to fight CSAM, but the approach they are taking introduces something very concerning into the world,” he wrote in a series of Tweets.
“This is an Apple built and operated surveillance system that could very easily be used to scan private content for anything they or a government decides it wants to control,” Cathcart added. “Countries where iPhones are sold will have different definitions on what is acceptable.”
From Cathcart’s viewpoint, not only the government could try to grab hold of the software, but also spyware companies who may eventually find a way to breach through the system and use it for their own intentions.
Cathcart said Whatsapp’s child sexual abuse content system could still uncover 400,000 incidents that would be notified to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children without breaking encryption. He promised that the app would not integrate Apple’s software.
Sharing the same worries with Cathcart, Matthew Green, an Associate Professor of Computer Science at the Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute, said many law enforcement worldwide had been trying to access such a system.
“The idea that Apple is a “privacy” company has bought them a lot of good press,” Green tweeted. “But it’s important to remember that this is the same company that won’t encrypt your iCloud backups because the FBI put pressure on them.”
BBC also noted The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group, who slashed Apple’s move to be “a fully-built system just waiting for external pressure to make the slightest change.”
Facebook also joined the voice of skepticism.
According to the outlet, Facebook has stated unequivocally that it believes this concept of internet safety is harmful and that it should be abandoned.
Recently, the social media giant had not been so agreeable with Apple over its new iOS update that allows users to decide whether they may be happy with being tracked around the internet when they downloaded a new app.