Apple’s backdoor surveillance scheme remains delayed, not canceled

Sometime between December 10th and December 13th, Apple updated its “child safety” webpage to remove all references to the controversial backdoor surveillance scheme, ostensibly for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), but which could easily be bastardized to look for virtually anything. However, despite the change to its website, Apple says its plans for the ill-conceived scheme haven’t changed.

iPhone backdoor

Jon Porter for The Verge:

When reached for comment, Apple spokesperson Shane Bauer said that the company’s position hasn’t changed since September, when it first announced it would be delaying the launch of the CSAM detection. “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers, and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features,” the company’s September statement read.

Crucially, Apple’s statement does not say the feature has been canceled entirely…

Critics argue that Apple’s system risks undermining Apple’s end-to-end encryption. Some referred to the system as a “backdoor” that governments around the world might strong-arm Apple into expanding into including content beyond CSAM.

MacDailyNews Take: Apple, or at least its feckless spokesman, seem to be doubling down on stupid, or they’re hopelessly compromised.

Apple must abandon, not delay or attempt to secretly implement, its backdoor surveillance scheme.

Originally, Apple stated they would use just one database of hashes from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

Obviously, that would be a lot of trust to give the key to a backdoor into 1.6+ billion devices worldwide into just entity.

Apple’s not stupid. So, why did they propose something so stupidly broken at its core?

After much outcry, Apple changed the hash acquisitions to those matching from “two or more child safety organizations operating in separate sovereign jurisdictions.”

Of course, Apple’s multi-country “safeguard” is no safeguard at all.

The Five Eyes (FVEY) is an intelligence alliance comprising the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. These countries are parties to the multilateral UKUSA Agreement, a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence.

The FVEY further expanded their surveillance capabilities during the course of the “war on terror,” with much emphasis placed on monitoring the World Wide Web. The former NSA contractor Edward Snowden described the Five Eyes as a “supra-national intelligence organization that does not answer to the known laws of its own countries.”

Documents leaked by Snowden in 2013 revealed that the FVEY has been spying on one another’s citizens and sharing the collected information with each other in order to circumvent restrictive domestic regulations on surveillance of citizens.

“Nice App Store you have there. It’d be a shame if anything happened to it.”

Again, Apple’s not stupid. So, why did they propose something so stupid and then propose to fix it with a non-fix?

Is Apple management being threatened? Perhaps with antitrust action? Is Apple management being promised things in return for this backdoor into every device? Perhaps antitrust actions that involve a slap on the wrist or even simply evaporate?

Apple’s claim to scan only for CSAM seems intended to serve as a trojan horse, introduced via the hackneyed Think of the Children™ ruse, that would later be bastardized in secret for all sorts of surveillance under the guise of “safety” in the future.

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. — Benjamin Franklin

The fact that Apple ever considered this travesty in the first place, much less announced and tried to implement it in the fashion they did, has damaged the company’s reputation for protecting user privacy immensely; perhaps irreparably.

Hopefully, if Apple management has any sense whatsoever, is not hopelessly compromised, and can resist whatever pressure forced them into this ill-considered abject disloyalty to customers who value their privacy and security, the company will end this disastrous scheme promptly and double-down on privacy by finally and immediately enabling end-to-end encryption of iCloud backups as a company which claims to be a champion of privacy would have done many years ago.

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[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]


  1. What a Travesty it would be If Implemented… 🤯
    What a Catastrophe it would be for the brands integrity, credibility,… and SOCIETY and FREEDOM as a whole!!! ( my blood pressure goes up when i think Apple and Tim could have been disingenuous to this degree !!!!!! 👺🤥🤥👺)

    I feel compelled to repost an older post of mine:

    TIm.. come out and openly admit to the blunder and apologize.
    Use every PR resources you have to mitigate the damage already done!

    And Fire those who even thought of a stupid idea like this…let alone carry it this far….. an idea that has done nothing but severely damage Apples integrity and commitment to PRIVACY … and an idea that will have zero effect on whats it pretends to solve! It will be dead on arrival as anyone can circumvent it by using other platforms or turning icloud off… …Yet it will completely destroy Apples Mantra of their Principals.. Principals we willing to pay a premium for!
    Your Backdoor Mass Surveillance scheme disguised as Virtue is nothing more that total betrayal of those who believed in Apple and invested in Apple’s Platform and Shares! .. and SOCIETY AND FREEDOM AS A WHOLE!!!







  2. For years i have been calling for Tim Cook to be fired. I was laughed at and mocked by the forum cognoscenti here. I saw what a total and complete FRAUD Tim Cook is. I was not blinding by the stock price. That’s never an indication of a company’s core quality. Plenty of good companies have a good stock price. Apple was different. Steve Jobs was different. While Tim Cook could never have been another Steve Jobs, he could have turned out much better. All he needed as commitment to Steve Jobs’ vision.

    Tim Cook never had that. Not for a second. All he did was ride Steve Jobs’ coat tails year after year after year. No innovation at all. Stock buybacks instead of plowing billions into innovation. How many times did I read Apple should have been the next Dropbox, Netflicks, etc… Instead, Apple is skating to where the puck was, not going.

    I continue to repeat my statement: Fire Tim Cook! NOW. He is doing MORE damage to Apple every day, not less. Fire him. Immediately.

  3. Thank you MDN. You’re the only site with the balls to tackle this issue and keep on this issue. Bless you. And f apple. If they go through with this, I will be through with them and go elsewhere for my phone and anywhere else they deploy this anti privacy poison.

  4. Has anyone successfully made the transition from the Apple ecosystem to Linux-based computers and smartphones? Or at least might have some recommendations on where to start looking? The writing is on the wall and I know the pesky, red, notification bubble that iOS15 is ready to be installed in settings will never go away. At this point I don’t expect to ever install a new Apple OS, i’m already very leery of the “updates” that either break functionality to push you to “upgrade” or jam things like the atrocious new Safari down your throat. I figure getting a Linux laptop sometime next year and getting used to it over time will help me make the switch once Apple telegraphs that we’ll be jabbed with this surveillance tech by force.

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