Bulletins

Global organizations urge Apple to drop child safety features

In a letter to Tim Cook, groups like the ACLU and the Center for Democracy and Technology warned that the update could have dangerous human rights implications.

Apple

Apple logo

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More than 90 civil liberties organizations around the world sent a letter to Apple's Tim Cook Thursday, urging the CEO to walk back its plans to use machine learning to automatically detect child sexual abuse material on users' devices.


"Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), 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 organizations wrote.

In the weeks since Apple's announcement, researchers and activists have worried that a feature which automatically informs parents if their child under 13 has sent or received sexually explicit material might put LGBTQ+ youth in jeopardy. The groups reiterated that concern in their letter, writing, "An abusive adult may be the organiser of the account, and the consequences of parental notification could threaten the child's safety and wellbeing. LGBTQ+ youths on family accounts with unsympathetic parents are particularly at risk."

The groups also worried about the slippery slope effect of this feature. "Once this backdoor feature is built in, governments could compel Apple to extend notification to other accounts, and to detect images that are objectionable for reasons other than being sexually explicit," the groups wrote.

Another feature, which automatically scans photos in iCoud for known child sexual abuse material, and alerts the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children once a certain number of photos have been flagged, has been similarly controversial. "Once this capability is built into Apple products, the company and its competitors will face enormous pressure — and potentially legal requirements — from governments around the world to scan photos not just for CSAM, but also for other images a government finds objectionable," the groups wrote.

Apple has sought to address some of these concerns in the press. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Chris Federighi, said the tools would be auditable. "If any changes were made that were to expand the scope of this in some way — in a way that we had committed to not doing — there's verifiability, [security researchers] can spot that that's happening," he said.

Latest Bulletins

David Hatfield has stepped down as co-CEO of cloud security vendor Lacework but will remain on the company's board of directors, Protocol has learned.

Keep Reading Show less

California’s new pay transparency law, SB 1162, promises to shake up compensation in the tech industry by requiring employers in the state to list pay scales in job ads and reveal pay information to both the state and to current employees. We spoke with Susan Alban, operating partner and chief people officer at Renegade Partners, and compensation consultant Ashish Raina to learn how.

Keep Reading Show less

Pour one out for the Lightning cable.

Keep Reading Show less

Carbon dioxide removal service buyers and sellers are focused on one metric: $100 per ton. It’s one of Frontier’s stated criteria that the fund uses to evaluate its advance purchases. In a survey of the long-duration carbon removal community, CarbonPlan found that stakeholders are focused on the $100 benchmark. The Department of Energy even announced that it would be investing in carbon removal research to bring the cost of the technology down to $100 per ton.

Keep Reading Show less

When Google announced the closure of its Stadia cloud gaming platform last week, the news was delivered at roughly the same time to employees, partners, and players on Thursday morning. Within hours, it had become clear that Stadia’s shutdown, planned for next January, would involve more than just refunding consumer purchases and quietly bowing out.

Now developers are scrambling to salvage planned projects, migrate players to other platforms, and figure out whether they’re still owed money from Google before the search giant puts Stadia out to pasture for good.

Keep Reading Show less

Trading of Twitter shares was briefly halted midday as CNBC and Bloomberg reported that Elon Musk now plans to go through with his deal to buy Twitter for $54.20 a share. The news was later confirmed.

Keep Reading Show less

The U.S. is set to unveil a fresh set of policies Thursday aimed at choking off China’s access to advanced chip manufacturing technology and the chips themselves, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Keep Reading Show less

Companies like Meta and Lyft have stopped hiring for the year, and that’s music to the ears of other tech companies that are still staffing up. Much of talent sourcing still takes place on LinkedIn, but many recruiters have found their own techniques to use the service more efficiently. We asked LinkedIn’s VP of talent acquisition and three outside recruiters for their best LinkedIn hacks for sourcing talent.

Keep Reading Show less

Kim Kardashian broke the internet, and according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, she also broke the securities laws.

Keep Reading Show less

On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law a bill that makes phone calls from California’s prisons free of charge. The new law places the cost of calls not on incarcerated people — or the people receiving calls from them — but on the state’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

California is the second state after Connecticut and the biggest state by far to institute such a law, which is a direct shot at the $1.4 billion prison telecom industry. For years prison telecom companies have maintained rates that “can be unjustly and unreasonably high, thereby impeding the ability of inmates and their loved ones to maintain vital connections,” the FCC said in 2020.

Prison reform advocates argue the new California law will have a hugely positive impact on the families of incarcerated people in California — and potentially other states that follow California's lead.

Keep Reading Show less

Rohit Chopra arrived as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau one year ago today. True to his reputation as an aggressive watchdog from his time as an FTC commissioner and an earlier stint at the CFPB, he has pursued a busy agenda that’s setting up regulatory battles to come.

Keep Reading Show less
Tech salaries are about to get a lot more transparent. On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a new law to require California employers to post salary ranges in job postings and report hourly pay data by employees’ race and sex to the state. We spoke with four employment lawyers and other pay transparency experts about what this means, and how to comply.
Keep Reading Show less

Microsoft said Friday it's "working on an accelerated timeline" to provide a patch for two newly disclosed vulnerabilities affecting Exchange email servers, which the company acknowledged have been used in attacks on customers.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is stepping up its push for open video formats: The company plans to force hardware manufacturers to support the AV1 video codec if they want to run Android 14 on their mobile devices, according to comments left in recent commits to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that were first spotted by Esper senior technical editor Mishaal Rahman.

Keep Reading Show less

A troubling new vulnerability affecting Microsoft Exchange email servers has been disclosed by researchers, though details are still emerging on the severity and exploitability of the flaw.

Keep Reading Show less

The gas-powered vehicle ban dominoes have begun to fall.

Keep Reading Show less

Tech industry groups are once again pleading with the 5th Circuit to block HB 20, Texas' on-again, off-again social media law, which the court recently allowed to take effect.

Keep Reading Show less

Sometimes a major "hack" isn't really a hack at all, such as with some breaches caused by the mishandling of APIs.

Keep Reading Show less

The neobank MoneyLion charged service members excessive fees for loans and often refused to cancel paid memberships, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Keep Reading Show less

Google is shutting down its Stadia cloud gaming service, nearly three years after its launch and roughly 18 months since the company shut down its internal game development division.

Keep Reading Show less

Amazon announced pay raises and the rollout of new benefit programs to warehouse employees Wednesday. But one of those products may pose increased risks to the company’s most precarious workers: the expanded rollout of Amazon’s Anytime Pay Program.

Keep Reading Show less

More pay transparency is coming to California. The Golden State is joining New York City, Colorado, and Washington in requiring employers to disclose pay ranges in job ads.

Keep Reading Show less

Cost-cutting in tech is officially hitting the industry’s titans. After years of ruthless staffing up, both Meta and Google have told some employees to find new jobs within the company or leave, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.

Keep Reading Show less

Calendly, the $3 billion scheduling startup that everyone likes to periodically fight about, has made its first acquisition: Prelude, a startup specializing in the hiring process. Prelude is specifically geared toward scheduling job interviews or other types of recruitment-related meetings.

Keep Reading Show less

Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky resigned from the embattled cryptocurrency lender Tuesday morning. The lender is in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings after pausing withdrawals in June.

Keep Reading Show less
Bulletins