WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart has called Apple’s new child safety feature very concerning and “a setback for people’s privacy”.
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Cathcart took to Twitter to express concerns and noted that instead of focusing on making it easy for people to report problematic content, Apple has built a software that scan all the private photos on a user’s phone.
“This is an Apple built and operated surveillance system that could very easily be used to scan private content tor anything they or a government decides it was to control,” he said.
Cathcart said the approach comes with so many problems. He noted it's “troubling” to see Apple act without engaging experts that have long documented their broader concerns.
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Apple Inc last week announced a new automated system that will scan photos uploaded to iCloud for child abuse material. The move instantaneously raised criticism from experts around the world stating it could be misused by governments to surveil citizens.
Expressing concerns over Apple's new scanning system, Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games, tweeted that "this is government spyware installed by Apple based on a presumption of guilt”.
Electronic Frontier Foundation, a U.S.-based digital liberties organisation, said Apple’s plan is not only a privacy backdoor, but “a fully built system just waiting for external pressure to make the slightest change”.