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EFF: Apple's Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor to Your Private Life


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Apple's Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor to Your Private Life

Apple has announced impending changes to its operating systems that include new “protections for children” features in iCloud and iMessage. If you’ve spent any time following the Crypto Wars, you know what this means: Apple is planning to build a backdoor into its data storage system and its messaging system.

 

Child exploitation is a serious problem, and Apple isn't the first tech company to bend its privacy-protective stance in an attempt to combat it. But that choice will come at a high price for overall user privacy. Apple can explain at length how its technical implementation will preserve privacy and security in its proposed backdoor, but at the end of the day, even a thoroughly documented, carefully thought-out, and narrowly-scoped backdoor is still a backdoor.

 

To say that we are disappointed by Apple’s plans is an understatement. 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. 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.

 

There are two main features that the company is planning to install in every Apple device. One is a scanning feature that will scan all photos as they get uploaded into iCloud Photos to see if they match a photo in the database of known child sexual abuse material (CSAM) maintained by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The other feature scans all iMessage images sent or received by child accounts—that is, accounts designated as owned by a minor—for sexually explicit material, and if the child is young enough, notifies the parent when these images are sent or received. This feature can be turned on or off by parents.

 

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 is one of the preeminent encrypted messengers.

 

Apple Is Opening the Door to Broader Abuses

 

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again now: it’s impossible to build a client-side scanning system that can only be used for sexually explicit images sent or received by children. As a consequence, even a well-intentioned effort to build such a system will break key promises of the messenger’s encryption itself and open the door to broader abuses.

That’s not a slippery slope; that’s a fully built system just waiting for external pressure to make the slightest change.

 

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. Take the example of India, where recently passed rules include dangerous requirements for platforms to identify the origins of messages and pre-screen content. New laws in Ethiopia requiring content takedowns of “misinformation” in 24 hours may apply to messaging services. And many other countries—often those with authoritarian governments—have passed similar laws. Apple’s changes would enable such screening, takedown, and reporting in its end-to-end messaging. The abuse cases are easy to imagine: governments that outlaw homosexuality might require the classifier to be trained to restrict apparent LGBTQ+ content, or an authoritarian regime might demand the classifier be able to spot popular satirical images or protest flyers.....

 

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2021/08/apples-plan-think-different-about-encryption-opens-backdoor-your-private-life

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5 hours ago, securitybreach said:

The abuse cases are easy to imagine: governments that outlaw homosexuality might require the classifier to be trained to restrict apparent LGBTQ+ content, or an authoritarian regime might demand the classifier be able to spot popular satirical images or protest flyers.....

 

Or even to track certain citizens. 😎

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securitybreach

Well you know..."its for the children.." Oldest trick in the book to get the people to give up their freedoms.

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V.T. Eric Layton

You don't need to do much to get folks to go along with anything, really. The proof to that is in the events surrounding Ed Snowden, WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and any other whistleblowers you can think of. The news makes a few hits in the media, people hem-haw and then shrug. In a week, it's forgotten and they're back on FB and Twitter spilling their personal lives in pics and stories about Aunt Edith's new dentures. It never changes. People have very short attention spans and memories. It allows those with a plan to succeed almost effortlessly.

 

All you need to remember is the three-legged stool:

 

oqmAwPF.jpg

 

Oops, drifting into topics that we don't allow here at Scot's. Apologies. Please don't ban me. Meh... while I'm treading in areas I shouldn't be, here's a bit of interesting reading for y'all...

 

https://edwardsnowden.substack.com/p/conspiracy-pt2

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securitybreach

Well said though and unfortunately 100% accurate. Will we ever change as a species? This is a species issue not any one government only.

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V.T. Eric Layton
29 minutes ago, securitybreach said:

Will we ever change as a species?

 

My jaded and cynical side says that it will only get worse...  just look at the last two years' worth of human behavior. :wacko:

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securitybreach
3 minutes ago, V.T. Eric Layton said:

 

My jaded and cynical side says that it will only get worse...  just look at the last two years' worth of human behavior. :wacko:

 

That logical, not cynical. It is getting worse every day. Just wait till the evictions start occurring. Even if you put it off, the bills do not stop adding up so eventually those people will lose their homes and then we will start seeing real chaos.

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