Facebook’s WhatsApp cross messaging platform on Friday fired back on Apple’s latest Child Safety Software plan. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart taking to Twitter cited concern on Apple’s new Child Safety features that scan user photos to find offending images.
WhatsApp blasts on Apple over new Child Safety tools
WhatsApp’s chief in a Twitter thread said that the Cupertino tech’s plan to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is stepped in the wrong path and rather represents ‘setback for people’s privacy all over the world.’ ‘We will not adopt it at WhatsApp,’ he further said.
Notably, the Facebook-owned messaging platform dinged the iPhone maker just a day after Apple announced its plan to release a child safety software tool that is designed to identify and report collections of sexually exploitative images of children. The plan will be released as part of a ‘series of changes it is preparing for the iPhone to protect children from sexual abusers.’ Apple notes that this step will help to keep user data encrypted and run the analysis on-device. Further, it will allow it to report users to the authorities if any child abuse imagery is detected.
While tech insiders have criticised Apple’s plan, Cathcart called the approach ‘very concerning’ and say that it would government ‘with different ideas’ as to which images are or are not acceptable to request that Apple add non-CSAM images to the database to the images that will be compared against.
“Apple has long needed to do more to fight CSAM, but the approach they are taking introduces something very concerning into the world. Instead of focusing on making it easy for people to report content that’s shared with them, Apple has built software that can scan all the private photos on your phone — even photos you haven’t shared with anyone. That’s not privacy,” Cathcart said.
The WhatsApp Chief cited that the company pushed the effort to fight CSAM and reported over 4,00,000 cases to National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) last year without compromising the encryption protocols.
I read the information Apple put out yesterday and I’m concerned. I think this is the wrong approach and a setback for people’s privacy all over the world.
People have asked if we’ll adopt this system for WhatsApp. The answer is no.
— Will Cathcart (@wcathcart) August 6, 2021
Besides WhatsApp Head, other tech experts like Edward Snowden, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, the Electronic Frontier Foundation also raised concern and said that the plan could lead to abuse by governments or ‘nefarious parties.’
WhatsApp’s jab on Apple is fairly understandable given the latter’s changes on its software (iOS 14.5) on ad tracking put a tussle with Zuckerberg’s company Apple’s privacy changes as harmful to small businesses. While Apple is well-known for bring stringent policies to safeguard users’ privacy, critics believe that the new approach might question the company’s long-standing reputation