Protests over iPhone 'spyware' ahead of iPhone 13 launch

Iphone Protest
Iphone Protest (Image credit: Fight for the Future)

What you need to know

  • Protests have taken place at some Apple Stores in the U.S.
  • A group called 'Fight For The Future' is demanding Apple drop plans to scan iCloud Photos for Child Sexual Abuse Material.
  • The group claims the measures could leave to "unprecedented surveillance".

A series of small protests have taken place at some Apple stores in the U.S. ahead of the iPhone 13 launch over Apple's Child Safety Measures that include scanning iCloud Photos for images of Child Sexual Abuse Material.

The protests, organised by Fight For the Future, were organized for stores in NYC, San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Portland, OR, and Washington D.C.

In a press release Fight For the Future stated "the protests are demanding that Apple permanently shelve their dangerous proposal to install photo and message scanning malware on millions of people's devices. The company already announced it was delaying the misguided proposal after widespread backlash from security experts and human rights experts. Protesters are calling on them to publicly commit to never implementing it."

The group's campaign director Caitlin Seeley George stated that Apple couldn't just "shove this horrible phone scan plan to the side" so as to avoid bad press during its Apple event, where the company is expected to unveil a new iPhone, Apple Watch Series 7, and AirPods 3. Whilst Apple's CSAM scanning plans have been met with pushback, forcing the company to put the measures on hold, FFTF's protests appear to have been sparsely attended, official photos show groups of no more than nine people and multiple stores appear to have been visited by just one or two people.

Apple's software chief Craig Federighi has admitted in an interview that the company's plans have been "widely misunderstood" and that in hindsight the company should not have announced CSAM scanning and a new Communication Safety feature, that uses machine learning to scan messages sent to children, at the same time, stating it was "a recipe for this kind of confusion."

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9