Apple Needs To Abandon Their CSAM Scanning Plans….. For Now

Two weeks ago, Apple announced two things that have set the Internet alight:

  • Apple plans to change iMessage functionality for those who have family accounts. It would try to identify and blur nudity in children’s messages, letting them view it only if parents are notified. 
  • Apple’s plans to detect known CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material) images stored in iCloud Photos by scanning them on device.

Since their announcement, I am sure Apple has been caught off guard by the backlash against this initiative. And they’ve been trying to spin this ever since. Apple has tried to clarify its position a few times. Including this interview with The Wall Street Journal that in my estimation, didn’t exactly go to plan:

Here’s the thing, this bad press for Apple isn’t going away. An international coalition of more than 90 policy and rights groups published an open letter on Thursday urging Apple to abandon its plans to “build surveillance capabilities into iPhones, iPads, and other products”. And you can expect it to get worse.

At this point, Apple should just pull the plug on this. At least for now.

Now to be clear, I think Apple should hunt down CSAM and protect kids. But that isn’t the issue anymore. The issue is the messaging that Apple has out there. Or more accurately the muddled and unclear messaging that Apple has out there. Apple has traded on the fact that they are the privacy platform. And they have done a horrible job of describing how these initiatives fit in with that. Throwing out technical documents and serving up FAQ’s which is what Apple has done doesn’t help them on that front. Trying to spin things the way that Craig Federighi did in the interview that I posted above doesn’t help either.

What I think would help is if Apple announces that they will back off of implementing this. And they should announce that they will listen to those who are critiquing them and work with them to come up with something that everyone can agree on. Apple in the past hasn’t displayed this sort of behavior, but now would be a good time for Apple to display that behavior. Because I believe that Apple has the right intentions, but their handling of the objections related to this sucks. Thus it’s time for a reset.

2 Responses to “Apple Needs To Abandon Their CSAM Scanning Plans….. For Now”

  1. […] raising objections to come up with something that is far less controversial. Just as I suggested here. Otherwise, Apple will lose the trust of their user base who expect them to do far better than […]

  2. […] have to admit that I didn’t expect Apple to back down. Even though I said that they should. Hopefully Apple does really listen to its critics and come up with something that […]

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