Saizul Amin

More than 90 policy and human rights organizations have asked the corporation to drop plans to check adult phones for photographs of child sex abuse.

Over 90 policy and human rights organizations from around the world have signed an open letter requesting Apple to scrap plans to check children’s texts for nudity and adults’ phones for photos of child sex abuse.

According to a Reuters news agency report on Thursday, the groups wrote in the letter, “Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material, 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.”

The organization Center for Democracy and Technology in the United States organized the largest campaign to date against an encryption issue at a single firm (CDT).

Some international signatories are concerned about the impact of the modifications in countries with differing legal systems, particularly some that are already embroiled in hot debates about encryption and privacy.

“It’s very sad and upsetting that Apple is doing this, because they’ve always been a strong supporter of encryption,” Sharon Bradford Franklin, co-director of CDT’s Security & Surveillance Project, said.

Some international signatories are concerned about the impact of the modifications in countries with differing legal systems, particularly some that are already embroiled in hot debates about encryption and privacy.

“It’s very sad and upsetting that Apple is doing this, because they’ve always been a strong supporter of encryption,” Sharon Bradford Franklin, co-director of CDT’s Security & Surveillance Project, said.

According to an Apple representative, the company addressed privacy and security issues in a document released last week, describing why the scanning software’s complicated architecture should withstand attempts to hack it.

Multiple groups in Brazil signed the petition, where courts have frequently barred Facebook’s WhatsApp for failing to decrypt conversations in criminal investigations, and the Senate has passed a measure requiring message traceability, which would necessitate some form of content labeling. This year, India passed a similar law.

“Our biggest concern is the impact of this mechanism, and how it could be expanded to other situations and companies,” said Flavio Wagner, head of the Internet Society’s autonomous Brazil branch, which is one of the letter’s signatories.

“This is a significant deterioration in encryption.”

India, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Ghana, and Tanzania were among the other signatories.

Apple has supplied a succession of explanations and documentation to show that the dangers of erroneous detections are negligible, despite the initial outrage following its announcement two weeks ago.

Apple has stated that it will refuse to expand the image-detection technology beyond images of children detected by clearinghouses in multiple jurisdictions, but it has not stated that it will withdraw from a market rather than comply with a court order.

Though the most of the complaints have been about device scanning, the coalition’s letter also criticizes a change to iMessage in family accounts that aims to identify and hide nudity in children’s communications, allowing them to access them only if their parents are told.

According to the signers, the move could put children in bigoted households or those seeking educational materials in risk. They also claimed that the change will disrupt iMessage’s end-to-end encryption, which Apple has adamantly defended in other instances.

SOURCE: Aljazeera & REUTERS

Saizul Amin

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