Apple’s Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor to Your Private Life
In our 778th issue:
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Apple is planning to build a backdoor into its data storage system and its messaging system.
Apple has historically been a champion of end-to-end encryption, for all of the same reasons that EFF has articulated time and time again. But the company has announced that changes to its operating systems would include new “protections for children” features in iCloud and iMessage. When Apple releases these “client-side scanning” functionalities, users of iCloud Photos, child users of iMessage, and anyone who talks to a minor through iMessage will have to carefully consider their privacy and security priorities in light of the
changes, and possibly be unable to safely use what until this development was one of the preeminent encrypted messengers.
Apple’s compromise on end-to-end encryption may appease government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, but it is a shocking about-face for users who have relied on the company’s leadership in privacy and security. All it would take to widen the narrow backdoor that Apple is building is an expansion of the machine learning parameters to look for additional types of content, or a tweak of the configuration flags to scan, not just children’s, but anyone’s accounts. That’s not a slippery slope; that’s a fully built system just waiting for external pressure to
make the slightest change.
Apple is a global company, with phones and computers in use all over the world, and the governmental pressure that comes along with that. For years, countries around the world have asked for access to and control over encrypted messages, asking technology companies to “nerd harder” when faced with the pushback that access to messages in the clear was incompatible with strong encryption.
Now that Apple has built it, they will come. With good intentions, Apple has paved the road to mandated security weakness around the world, enabling and reinforcing the arguments that, should the intentions be good enough, scanning through your personal life and private communications is acceptable. We urge Apple to reconsider and return to the mantra the company so memorably emblazoned on a billboard at 2019’s CES conference in Las Vegas: What happens on your iPhone, stays on your iPhone.
Mass surveillance is not an acceptable crime-fighting strategy, no matter how well-intentioned the spying. If you’re upset about Apple’s recent announcement that the next version of iOS will install surveillance software in every iPhone, we need you to speak out about it. Sign our petition telling Apple: Don’t scan our phones.
Biden's infrastructure bill—a 2,000+ page bill designed to update the United States’ roads, highways, and digital infrastructure—contains a poorly crafted provision that could create new surveillance requirements for many within the blockchain ecosystem. This could include developers and others who do not control digital assets on behalf of users.
Court documents recently reviewed by VICE have revealed that ShotSpotter, a company that makes and sells audio gunshot detection to cities and police departments, may not be as accurate or reliable as the company claims.
Facebook recently banned the accounts of several New York University (NYU) researchers who run Ad Observer, an accountability project that tracks paid disinformation. This has major implications—not just for transparency, but for user autonomy and the fight for interoperable software
Defenders of the American Dream, LLC, is sending out demand letters to websites that use Google’s reCAPTCHA system, accusing them of infringing U.S. Patent No. 8,621,578. Looking at the history of its patent—which shares no code at all—makes it clear why the patent system is such a bad fit for software.
School’s In! However you may feel about it, join Cypurr (a local organization in the Electronic Frontier Alliance) on August 21 at 11 AM PDT as they talk about ways students can help keep their privacy in mind on their devices while navigating the academically (and socially) rigorous new school year.
From September 2 to September 6, EFF will be at this year's DragonCon, a "multi-media, pop culture convention focusing on science fiction & fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film." Various EFF staff members will be featured in talks on the Electronic Frontiers Forums track during the event, in-person and online, so be sure to check them out!
EFF seeks an Associate Director of Institutional Support who is an outstanding and experienced writer to assist with the institutional funding strategy and the development and prospecting of institutional funders, organizational members, and donors.
To protect women journalists online, the Coalition Against Online Violence has just launched the Online Violence Response Hub, a project of the IWMF with ICFJ, a robust resource center where women journalists can find updated research, emergency assistance, and easy-to-follow recommendations for their specific situation.
“Regulated encryption” is just a euphemism for government backdoors into our communications.
Citizen plans to offer a $20 monthly service that lets users contact the company's team of virtual agents for help whenever they feel threatened—"essentially the Karen of apps.”
The Minnesota Fusion Center, a federal-state law enforcement partnership, has been surveilling water protectors who are trying to protect their land and water sources from tar sands pipelines.
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