Apple is well-known for its secretive and discreet work culture. But in an unexpected turn of events, many Apple employees have spoken of their apprehensions about a new child protection feature being launched by the company.
As per the terms of this new proposal, Apple will scan the phones and computers of all their American users to find images related to child sexual abuse. Apple employees spoke about this measure with more than 800 messages on their internal Slack thread. Sources inside the company have revealed that employees are worried about the misuse of such a feature by repressive governments as a means of censorship.
The backlash has mostly come from employees who are not working in the security departments. Even then, this seems to be a big issue for a company known for its tight secretive internal practices. Employees fear that such a move can harm Apple’s reputation of giving top priority to user security.
Interestingly, the core team at Apple is still in favor of the move as they believe that it is the only possible response in the face of government pressure to control the sharing of illegal media through its services. Some other employees even believe that this photo-scanning feature is just the first step towards Apple implementing a complete encryption service for interested iCloud users. Apple has still not announced its stand on the iCloud encryption issue very clear.
But a vast majority of employees spoke about this new photo scanning feature on a Slack thread dedicated to the issue. Within the two years of the pandemic, Apple staff has taken to Slack as the primary means of discussion and communication.
Even others outside the organization are protesting against Apple’s new feature. They believe that the US government cannot force any service provider to scan the personal devices of a vast majority of Americans. They feel that this is a deliberate breach of privacy completely made at the behest of Apple executives. The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology are already organizing protests against Apple.
Most experts are even more surprised by Apple’s decision because it is completely in contrast to their 2016 decision to protest against the FBI mandate of photo scanning to prevent terrorism-related activities. Apple had then protested against the move, claiming that once such a technology is developed, the government of any country can ask to expand on that tool and use it for other purposes. Industry insiders feel that the same thing is possible with the new child protection service as well.
Heavy protests are expected in the next few weeks to stop Apple from implementing its policy. Fears are now rife that as soon as the company implements such a move, others will also be at liberty to do the same. Apple employees and other citizens organizations are fighting to protect people from such an invasion of privacy and increased censorship.