The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) — a nonprofit organization “defending civil liberties in the digital world” — has issued a statement applauding Apple’s new security features and its decision to ditch plans for CSAM scanning on an iPhone.
Here’s part of the statement: Apple’s on-device encryption is strong, but some especially sensitive iCloud data, such as photos and backups, has continued to be vulnerable to government demands and hackers. Users who opt in to Apple’s new proposed feature, which the company calls Advanced Data Protection for iCloud, will be protected even if there is a data breach in the cloud, a government demand, or a breach from within Apple (such as a rogue employee). Apple said today that the feature will be available to U.S. users by the end of the year, and will roll out to the rest of the world in “early 2023.”
We’re also pleased to hear that Apple has officially dropped its plans to install photo-scanning software on its devices, which would have inspected users’ private photos in iCloud and iMessage. This software, a version of what’s called “client-side scanning,” was intended to locate child abuse imagery and report it to authorities. When a user’s information is end-to-end encrypted and there is no device scanning, the user has true control over who has access to that data.
Apple’s image-scanning plans were announced in 2021, but delayed after EFF supporters protested and delivered a petition containing more than 60,000 signatures to Apple executives. While Apple quietly postponed these scanning plans later that year, today’s announcement makes it official.
However, the FBI said it was “deeply concerned with the threat end-to-end and user-only-access encryption pose.”
“This hinders our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyber-attacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism,” the bureau said in an emailed statement to The Washington Post. “In this age of cybersecurity and demands for ‘security by design,’ the FBI and law enforcement partners need ‘lawful access by design.’”