'Technology to automatically scan all iPhones threatens democracy', researchers warn

They say that introducing the technology - recently proposed by Apple as a method of pre-emptively scanning all iPhones for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) - "would be an extremely dangerous societal experiment" that risks handing governments enormous

Fourteen of the world's most respected information security experts have warned that client-side scanning "is a dangerous technology" that threatens democracy.

The cryptographers and engineers, whose careers have laid the groundwork for the internet's fundamental security protocols, have authored a paper titled "Bugs in Our Pockets" to explain their concerns,

They say that introducing the technology - recently proposed by Apple as a method of pre-emptively scanning all iPhones for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) - "would be an extremely dangerous societal experiment" that risks handing governments enormous surveillance powers.

What is the technology?

Client-side scanning (CSS) is a way of searching for particular files on a personal device without those files having to be shared with someone else, as happens with server-side scanning.

It is intended to protect users' privacy by preventing other people from seeing the files on users' phones - in Apple's case, for instance, with the scan only flagging matches to known images featuring child exploitation - but the experts argue these protections are not guaranteed.

CSS was the model proposed by Apple for its "critically important child safety features" which were to be launched in the US later this year before being delayed following concerns and controversy.


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