comscore WhatsApp head slams Apple over tracking iPhones for child sex abuse photos

WhatsApp head slams Apple over tracking iPhones for child sex abuse photos

WhatsApp fire back on Apple over Child Safety Software plan, says it represents 'setback for people's privacy all over the world,' and it won't be adopted in the messaging platform.

Apple Child Safety Software plan

Facebook’s WhatsApp cross messaging platform on Friday fired back on Apple’s latest Child Safety Software plan. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart taking to Twitter cited concern on Apple’s new Child Safety features that scan user photos to find offending images. Also Read - Apple A16 Bionic Geekbench results show a nominal performance difference over A15 Bionic

WhatsApp blasts on Apple over new Child Safety tools

WhatsApp’s chief in a Twitter thread said that the Cupertino tech’s plan to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is stepped in the wrong path and rather represents ‘setback for people’s privacy all over the world.’ ‘We will not adopt it at WhatsApp,’ he further said. Also Read - iPhone SE 2022 price hiked after iPhone 14 launch: Here’s how much it costs now

Notably, the Facebook-owned messaging platform dinged the iPhone maker just a day after Apple announced its plan to release a child safety software tool that is designed to identify and report collections of sexually exploitative images of children. The plan will be released as part of a ‘series of changes it is preparing for the iPhone to protect children from sexual abusers.’ Apple notes that this step will help to keep user data encrypted and run the analysis on-device. Further, it will allow it to report users to the authorities if any child abuse imagery is detected. Also Read - Apple likely to start iPhone 14 production in India soon: Report

While tech insiders have criticised Apple’s plan, Cathcart called the approach ‘very concerning’ and say that it would government ‘with different ideas’ as to which images are or are not acceptable to request that Apple add non-CSAM images to the database to the images that will be compared against.

“Apple has long needed to do more to fight CSAM, but the approach they are taking introduces something very concerning into the world. Instead of focusing on making it easy for people to report content that’s shared with them, Apple has built software that can scan all the private photos on your phone — even photos you haven’t shared with anyone. That’s not privacy,” Cathcart said.

The WhatsApp Chief cited that the company pushed the effort to fight CSAM and reported over 4,00,000 cases to National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) last year without compromising the encryption protocols.

Besides WhatsApp Head, other tech experts like Edward Snowden, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, the Electronic Frontier Foundation also raised concern and said that the plan could lead to abuse by governments or ‘nefarious parties.’

WhatsApp’s jab on Apple is fairly understandable given the latter’s changes on its software (iOS 14.5) on ad tracking put a tussle with Zuckerberg’s company Apple’s privacy changes as harmful to small businesses. While Apple is well-known for bring stringent policies to safeguard users’ privacy, critics believe that the new approach might question the company’s long-standing reputation.

  • Published Date: August 7, 2021 10:55 AM IST
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