Apple warns Australian tech proposal risks privacy, surveillance

Regulator aims to detect and remove harmful material but faces criticism for potential impact on encryption. Apple emphasises global consequences of mandatory scanning measures.
29 February 2024
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Apple has raised concerns about an Australian proposal that would require tech companies to scan cloud and messaging services for child-abuse material. The company warns that this could compromise privacy and security protections, leading to mass surveillance.

eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, proposed that providers should detect and remove child-abuse material and pro-terror material “where technically feasible” – as well as disrupt and deter new material of that nature.
The regulator has stressed in an associated discussion paper it “does not advocate building in weaknesses or back doors to undermine privacy and security on end-to-end encrypted services”.

However, Apple argues that this could undermine end-to-end encryption and potentially lead to global surveillance. The company recommends a clearer approach to support encryption and ensure consistency across standards.
In addition, Apple highlights that scanning for illegal content could extend to other personal information, risking privacy and safety. They caution against compromising user security and express concerns about potential misuse by law enforcement.

Privacy advocates and messaging company Signal also oppose the proposal, indicating potential legal challenges. Apple stresses that such measures could have far-reaching implications for freedom of expression and democracy.

- CyberBeat


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