iCloudSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple's controversial child safety measures continue to draw attention.
  • Thousands of people have signed an open letter to the company over the issue.
  • The letter is backed by multiple organizations and public figures including Edward Snowden.

Thousands of people online have signed an open letter to Apple calling for a halt to some of its recently announced Child Safety measures over privacy and security concerns.

A letter hosted at appleprivacyletter.com has garnered over 3,700 signatures in less than 24 hours and has been undersigned by several organizations as well as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and Matthew D. Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University who leaked Apple's plans prior to the announcement. The letter states:

On August 5th, 2021, Apple Inc. announced new technological measures meant to apply across virtually all of its devices under the umbrella of "Expanded Protections for Children". While child exploitation is a serious problem, and while efforts to combat it are almost unquestionably well-intentioned, Apple's proposal introduces a backdoor that threatens to undermine fundamental privacy protections for all users of Apple products.

The letter notes expert objections from groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and more. The letter continues:

Apple's proposed technology works by continuously monitoring photos saved or shared on the user's iPhone, iPad, or Mac. One system detects if a certain number of objectionable photos is detected in iCloud storage and alerts the authorities. Another notifies a child's parents if iMessage is used to send or receive photos that a machine learning algorithm considers to contain nudity.

Because both checks are performed on the user's device, they have the potential to bypass any end-to-end encryption that would otherwise safeguard the user's privacy.

The letter asks that Apple "immediately" halt the deployment of "its proposed content monitoring technology", and that Apple issues a statement "reaffirming their commitment to end-to-end encryption and to user privacy."

You can read a full rundown of Apple's recently announced policies here.