Reality 2.0 Newsletter - August 27, 2021: Apple's Child Safety Policy

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A Quick Plug

Episode 82: Apple’s Child Safety and the Screeching Voices of the Minority

Katherine Druckman and Doc Searls talk to Kyle Rankin about Apple’s new plans to monitor personal devices, and what it means for privacy, ownership, and setting precedence.

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The Screeching What, Now?

A few weeks ago, Apple announced a new approach to child safety that caused a swift backlash from nearly every privacy expert and advocate, including the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the ACLU, Fight for the Future, and many individuals and others, with many ultimately signing an open letter to Apple strongly condemning the move.

The undersigned organisations committed to civil rights, human rights and digital rights around the world are writing to urge Apple to abandon the plans it announced on 5 August 2021 to build surveillance capabilities into iPhones, iPads and other Apple products. Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), we are concerned that they will be used to censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children.

Reality 2.0 guests, Kyle Rankin and Bruce Schneier weighed in with reasoned commentary as well. Schneier provides an excellent round up of various information related to Apple’s announcement, and in his first post, aptly recalls his own 2005 warning:

Beware the Four Horsemen of the Information Apocalypse: terrorists, drug dealers, kidnappers, and child pornographers. Seems like you can scare any public into allowing the government to do anything with those four.

Rankin’s more thorough analysis on the blog raises the very fair question of precedence setting:

So companies capture and sell our data, and the police and private groups sometimes buy that data to look for crimes. But up to this point, the “snitching” that devices did on you was indirect–it would send data to vendors or app developers to sell to brokers, but the only time that vendors might search your data and alert the authorities is when searching files stored on their own servers that you have shared. Up to now, actually scanning for potential contraband on a person’s device was a line companies wouldn’t cross.

We hope you’ll listen to episode 82 to hear our full discussion with Kyle on what we feel is a gravely important issue. We’re with the experts on this, and you can add us to the “screeching voices of the minority.” You can show your support for the podcast and digital privacy by ordering a t-shirt or other printed items with the design below.

And as always, please let us know your thoughts in a comment, on any of our social outlets, or via our contact form. Thank you!

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