UK government lauds Apple's CSAM plans as it seeks to skirt end-to-end encryption

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Priti Patel, Home Secretary of the UK, penned an op-ed this week highlighting a need for enhanced child protection online, and in doing so lauded Apple's now-postponed CSAM monitoring plans.

CSAM


Patel's thoughts, published by The Telegraph and Britain's Home Office on Wednesday, begins with a call to action against sexual abuse of children, which is "incited, organized, and celebrated online."

In efforts to curb dissemination of child sexual abuse material and ensure public safety, Patel tasks "international partners and allies" to support the UK's approach of "holding technology companies to account and asking social media companies to put public safety before profits."

The home secretary cited Apple's CSAM monitoring plans as a novel solution to the problem.

"Recently Apple have taken the first step, announcing that they are seeking new ways to prevent horrific abuse on their service," Patel writes. "Apple state their child sexual abuse filtering technology has a false positive rate of 1 in a trillion, meaning the privacy of legitimate users is protected whilst those building huge collections of extreme child sexual abuse material are caught out. They need to see though [sic] that project."

But Patel's wider push involves law enforcement access to trusted communications, a strategy that stands in stark contrast to Apple's corporate mantra of user privacy. End-to-end encryption, already in use by Apple's Messages and a variety of popular communications platforms, is specifically targeted as a specter to be feared.

Patel repeats a common refrain from governments opposed to inherently secure messaging systems, saying the technology obscures vital information that could be used in police investigations and complicates efforts to capture criminals. The government does not want to surveil its citizens, but protect them from "truly evil crimes," she says.

"The introduction of end-to-end encryption must not open the door to even greater levels of child sexual abuse - but that is the reality if plans such as those put forward by Facebook go ahead unchanged," Patel writes, referencing Facebook's plan to enable encryption technology for its Messenger product. "Hyperbolic accusations from some quarters that this is really about governments wanting to snoop and spy on innocent citizens are simply untrue. It is about keeping the most vulnerable among us safe and preventing truly evil crimes."

While it follows regional laws and regulations pertaining to legal requests for user data, Apple continues to develop software services that make it impossible for third parties to access certain information. Similar technologies have been applied to the company's hardware on the way to full stack protection.

As for Apple's CSAM initiative, the on-device CSAM monitoring solution faced stiff opposition from industry experts, privacy advocates and customers who argue the system will lead to mass surveillance. The uproar prompted Apple to postpone launch of the feature as it gathers feedback from interested parties.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,319member
    Oh man, now I’m conflicted. I was a defender of Apple’s CSAM solution, but it does not sit at all well with me to be on the same side of the argument as Priti Patel. The woman is a nasty piece of work.
    kiltedgreenrhonin
  • Reply 2 of 37
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    And that right there proves how utterly wrong and misguided that entire initiative was: there’s no way in hell Apple would be able to withstand government pressures to expand the scanning in all sorts of directions when faced with the alternative of complying or leaving the market and facing the wrath of shareholders.

    They would first have had to get shareholders approval for maintaining certain ethical principles no matter what the cost for all future, and then advertising that that policy widely on their investors pages, prospectuses, etc. before even entertaining the thought of CSAM scanning.

    Now they and their users are already fucked: they admitted they could do it, and the pressures already are mounting. Once it active for CSAM it will go to drugs, prostitution, political speech, traffic violations, etc. etc.

    You open Pandora’s box, you cannot control what’s coming out of it.
    baconstangelijahgmuthuk_vanalingambeowulfschmidtrinosaurcroprwilliamlondonJaiOh81rhonin
  • Reply 3 of 37
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    crowley said:
    Oh man, now I’m conflicted. I was a defender of Apple’s CSAM solution, but it does not sit at all well with me to be on the same side of the argument as Priti Patel. The woman is a nasty piece of work.
    Who is for it, is utterly irrelevant.

    What isn’t irrelevant, is that once the infrastructure is there, there’s no way Apple can (afford to) keep a lid on it, and it will creep into ever more area, until it reaches spitting on the sidewalk under the guise of stopping the spread of a future pandemic.

    The fact that who’s for it and who’s against it influences your stance on the matter only shows one thing: you never did, and you still don’t, understand the gravity of what this is all about, and you let yourself be baited by the “but the poor children” straw man.
    muthuk_vanalingamchemengin1JaiOh81rhonin
  • Reply 4 of 37
    Outside of fascist dictatorships, UK has about the worst surveillance of its citizens anywhere.  
    Let's not try too hard to spread that around.
    edited September 2021 muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 37
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,846member
    If there was any remaining doubt that this was a bad idea...
    JFC_PAmuthuk_vanalingamchemengin1williamlondonJaiOh81rhonin
  • Reply 6 of 37
    Not only will Apple not be able to resist pressure from governments about scope creep, they won't even be able to tell when they are complicit with it. The way that the system is constructed means that Apple does not see them images in the database against which they are matching; they only see the neural hashes of the images. If the Chinese "abuse" image hash set includes hashes of images of people standing in front of tanks in Tiananmen Square, or pictures of Pooh Bear, then Apple can't tell that those images are in the hash set until they have unlocked matching images.

    Once you build a technology that will grant access to a "competent legal authority", you have to resign yourself to granting access to every Chinese appointed judge in Hong Kong, every oligarch appointed judge in Russia and every Taliban appointed judge in Afghanistan, as well as whomever Priti Patel appoints. Whatever you think of the UK's current Home Secretary, she's only the thin end of the wedge.
    baconstangmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 37
    Britain: mini-China 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 37
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,709member
    Outside of fascist dictatorships, UK has about the worst surveillance of its citizens anywhere.  
    Let's not try too hard to spread that around.
    Technically us "Representative Monarchies" of the commonwealth are more dictatorships than democracies. Just with a very hands off dictator, who is more worried about the dog and horses than any behaviour criminal or otherwise of the "Representatives". 



    baconstangwilliamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 37
    I find it difficult to take anyone seriously who uses the phrase "truly evil".
    williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 37
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,504member
    Talk about ridiculous worry mongering going on. Let me get this straight, you are all worried that once this system is put into place, Apple will be compelled by governments and other evil entities to expand the “scanning” and reporting into other areas? Is that the gist of it?

    Can one of you please explain to me how that is not currently possible? Because I’m missing something. If desired, China could require Apple to surveillance EVERYTHING on your device. There is no absolutely need for this CSAM tool to do that.

    For years, Apple and every other online service was already compelled to search through all user data stored on their servers and report illegal child pornography. Why haven’t they expanded that search into other areas? Can one of you explain that?

    The current “laws” do not allow e2e encryption of stored data for that one and only reason; child pornography. This gives law enforcement [warranted] access to all your iCloud data, not just your illegal photos.

    All Apple’s CSAM tools allow, is that Apple can remain complaint to current laws (reporting illegal child pornography) while also offering users the ability to store the rest of their data (and photos) encrypted and out of prying eyes.
    Detnatorforegoneconclusionwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 37
    If a government wants access to devices they can pass legislation to mandate it, they do not need Apple’s CSAM architecture to do so … You know the saying you get the politics you voted for … If it ever comes to that I would prefer the architecture Apple developed though, as long as I stay out of terrorisme and child abuse I would keep my “privacy”. To be clear I do not want this, but wait, if in the next years there are some more terrorist attacks, you can bet all the money in the world, governments are going to mandate this.
    Detnatorwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 37
    mjtomlin said:
    Talk about ridiculous worry mongering going on. Let me get this straight, you are all worried that once this system is put into place, Apple will be compelled by governments and other evil entities to expand the “scanning” and reporting into other areas? Is that the gist of it?

    Can one of you please explain to me how that is not currently possible? Because I’m missing something. If desired, China could require Apple to surveillance EVERYTHING on your device. There is no absolutely need for this CSAM tool to do that.

    For years, Apple and every other online service was already compelled to search through all user data stored on their servers and report illegal child pornography. Why haven’t they expanded that search into other areas? Can one of you explain that?

    The current “laws” do not allow e2e encryption of stored data for that one and only reason; child pornography. This gives law enforcement [warranted] access to all your iCloud data, not just your illegal photos.

    All Apple’s CSAM tools allow, is that Apple can remain complaint to current laws (reporting illegal child pornography) while also offering users the ability to store the rest of their data (and photos) encrypted and out of prying eyes.
    Couple of points:
    1. It may be extremely hard for you to grasp this basic point, but many people do understand this - Apple's iCloud servers are Apple's property and anything stored in iCloud by end-users is public data for all practical purposes (even though the owner of the data is end-users). And Apple can scan data in their property for illegal content and report it to law enforcement agencies. BUT they have no business or whatsoever looking into the data stored in a device which is "owned' by end-users. "Ownership of the property" is the key operative word here. Apple owns iCloud and they can do whatever hell they want to do with it, as long as they "inform" end-users about it. End-users own the phones and Apple/Google/<anyone else> (at least the ones who "claim" to uphold the "privacy" of the end-users) has no business peeking into it.

    2. The most important one - you mentioned "All Apple’s CSAM tools allow, is that Apple can remain complaint to current laws (reporting illegal child pornography) while also offering users the ability to store the rest of their data (and photos) encrypted and out of prying eyes". This is pure SPECULATION on your part and please do NOT spread this RUMOR WITHOUT any basis again and again. Apple has NEVER mentioned that they WILL implement end-to-end encryption as soon as on-device CSAM scanning is enabled. NEVER. It is pure speculation by some of the AI forum members that Apple would do it. If you are so sure about it, can you please share Apple's official statement on this?
    edited September 2021 rhonin
  • Reply 13 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,319member
    rcfa said:
    crowley said:
    Oh man, now I’m conflicted. I was a defender of Apple’s CSAM solution, but it does not sit at all well with me to be on the same side of the argument as Priti Patel. The woman is a nasty piece of work.
    Who is for it, is utterly irrelevant.

    What isn’t irrelevant, is that once the infrastructure is there, there’s no way Apple can (afford to) keep a lid on it, and it will creep into ever more area, until it reaches spitting on the sidewalk under the guise of stopping the spread of a future pandemic.

    The fact that who’s for it and who’s against it influences your stance on the matter only shows one thing: you never did, and you still don’t, understand the gravity of what this is all about, and you let yourself be baited by the “but the poor children” straw man.
    Way to extrapolate dude, I’m just being facetious about Priti Patel, my opinion hasn’t actually changed one jot.

    I can see you've extrapolated the effect of the solution to an absurd certainty of a totalitarian future as well.  There's no actual evidence for any of that you know, it's all just a bunch of ifs and maybes.
    edited September 2021 tuckerjj
  • Reply 14 of 37
    Has anyone who is against Apple’s CSAM plans proposed an alternative solution, especially taking into account the scenario where Apple enables end-to-end encryption on iCloud?

    As my boss would say “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions” but the only alternative solution I’ve heard so far is don’t do anything. 
    crowleykiltedgreen
  • Reply 15 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,319member
    tuckerjj said:
    Has anyone who is against Apple’s CSAM plans proposed an alternative solution, especially taking into account the scenario where Apple enables end-to-end encryption on iCloud?

    As my boss would say “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions” but the only alternative solution I’ve heard so far is don’t do anything. 
    Scan it on the server is the only alternative being bandied about, which completely misses the point that your data is far more vulnerable to seizure by the authorities (and hackers) if Apple keeps the encryption key.  The on-device solution would mean Apple are able to apply end to end encryption to your iCloud Photo Library, and your privacy would be much enhanced.
    Detnatortuckerjjwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 37
    tuckerjj said:
    Has anyone who is against Apple’s CSAM plans proposed an alternative solution, especially taking into account the scenario where Apple enables end-to-end encryption on iCloud?

    As my boss would say “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions” but the only alternative solution I’ve heard so far is don’t do anything. 
    ANY official sources for this claim? Do you understand the fact that you are purely SPECULATING WITHOUT ANY BASIS or whatsoever? Has Apple EVER said that they would implement end-to-end encryption as soon as on-device CSAM scanning is enabled? Can you please point to OFFICIAL statement from Apple on this?
    edited September 2021 williamlondon
  • Reply 17 of 37
    crowley said:
    tuckerjj said:
    Has anyone who is against Apple’s CSAM plans proposed an alternative solution, especially taking into account the scenario where Apple enables end-to-end encryption on iCloud?

    As my boss would say “don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions” but the only alternative solution I’ve heard so far is don’t do anything. 
    Scan it on the server is the only alternative being bandied about, which completely misses the point that your data is far more vulnerable to seizure by the authorities (and hackers) if Apple keeps the encryption key.  The on-device solution would mean Apple are able to apply end to end encryption to your iCloud Photo Library, and your privacy would be much enhanced.
    If Apple NEVER plans to implement end-to-end encryption for iCloud data (there is absolutely NO indication to that effect from Apple so far), would you agree that on-device scanning is unnecessary when everything can be done at server side itself (in Apple's property instead of private owner's property)?
  • Reply 18 of 37
    seanjseanj Posts: 268member
    crowley said:
    Oh man, now I’m conflicted. I was a defender of Apple’s CSAM solution, but it does not sit at all well with me to be on the same side of the argument as Priti Patel. The woman is a nasty piece of work.
    Yes communists like yourself have a special racial hatred for Priti Patel. The daughter of an immigrant to the U.K. who is a minister in the Conservative party.

    A fact which also makes the comments about the U.K. becoming ‘communist/ mini-China’ even more hilarious. But these are probably comments from ignorant types who probably could identify either China or the U.K. on a map, and get worried when they occasionally cross the county-line.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 19 of 37
    xbitxbit Posts: 317member
    seanj said:
    Yes communists like yourself have a special racial hatred for Priti Patel. The daughter of an immigrant to the U.K. who is a minister in the Conservative party.
    Let's look at Priti Patel's track record:
    • Forced to resign after holding secret meetings with Israeli authorities without government approval.
    • Multiple incidents of bullying staff. The last complaint of bullying cost British taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle.
    • Broke the ministerial code a second time by not declaring work outside parliament. 
    • Backed soccer fans who booed England players kneeling against racism (although she changed her tune when the team started winning games). 
    • Broke the ministerial code again by lobbying to get PPE contracts awarded to friends.
    And that's before we get to just how incompetent she's been as a minister. She's hated by the left for revelling in being cruel and she's hated by the right for being completely ineffectual at stopping asylum seekers from reaching Britain.

    But, sure, anyone who dislikes Priti Patel is a racist and a communist. :D
    darkpawbeowulfschmidtPsamathoswilliamlondonkiltedgreenwatto_cobraJaiOh81
  • Reply 20 of 37
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,319member
    seanj said:
    crowley said:
    Oh man, now I’m conflicted. I was a defender of Apple’s CSAM solution, but it does not sit at all well with me to be on the same side of the argument as Priti Patel. The woman is a nasty piece of work.
    Yes communists like yourself have a special racial hatred for Priti Patel. The daughter of an immigrant to the U.K. who is a minister in the Conservative party.

    A fact which also makes the comments about the U.K. becoming ‘communist/ mini-China’ even more hilarious. But these are probably comments from ignorant types who probably could identify either China or the U.K. on a map, and get worried when they occasionally cross the county-line.
     :smiley: 

    I'm not a communist dude.  Calm your crazy down.
    kiltedgreenwatto_cobra
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