Apple photo-scanning plan faces global backlash from 90 rights groups

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More than 90 policy groups from the US and around the world signed an open letter urging Apple to drop its plan to have Apple devices scan photos for child sexual abuse material (CSAM).

"The undersigned organizations committed to civil rights, human rights, and digital rights around the world are writing to urge Apple to abandon the plans it announced on 5 August 2021 to build surveillance capabilities into iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products," the letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook said today. "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 Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) announced the letter, with CDT Security & Surveillance Project Co-Director Sharon Bradford Franklin saying, "We can expect governments will take advantage of the surveillance capability Apple is building into iPhones, iPads, and computers. They will demand that Apple scan for and block images of human rights abuses, political protests, and other content that should be protected as free expression, which forms the backbone of a free and democratic society."

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