Yesterday in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York, and other cities across the U.S activists rallied in front of Apple stores demanding that the company fully cancel its plan to introduce surveillance software into its devices. In addition to protests at stores organized by EFF and Fight for the Future, EFF also took the message directly to Apple’s headquarters by flying a banner above the campus during its annual iPhone launch event today.
The last time EFF held a protest at an Apple store, in 2016, it was to support the company’s strong stance in protecting encryption. That year, Apple challenged the FBI’s request to install a backdoor into its operating system. This year, in early August, Apple stunned its many supporters by announcing a set of upcoming features, intended to help protect children, that would create an infrastructure that could easily be redirected to greater surveillance and censorship. These features would pose enormous danger to iPhone users’ privacy and security, offering authoritarian governments a new mass surveillance system to spy on citizens.
After public pushback in August, Apple announced earlier this month that its scanning program would be delayed. Protestors this week rallied to urge Apple to abandon its program and commit to protecting user privacy and security. Speakers included EFF Activist Joe Mullin and Executive Director Cindy Cohn.
Mullin told the crowd at the San Francisco protest how essential it was that Apple continue its commitment to protecting users: “From San Francisco to Dubai, Apple told the whole world that iPhone is all about privacy,” said Mullin. “But faced with government pressure, they caved. Now 60,000 users have signed a petition telling Apple they refuse to be betrayed.”
Holding signs that read “Don’t Scan My Phone” and “No Spy Phone,” protestors chanted “No 1984, no, Apple—no backdoor!" and “2-4-6-8, stand with users, not the state; 3-5-7-9, privacy is not a crime!”
“We can't be silent while Tim Cook and other Apple leaders congratulate themselves on their new products after they've signed on to a mass surveillance project,” said Mullin. “No scanners on our phones!”
Apple has said that it will take additional time over the coming months to collect input about its child protection features. Later this month, EFF hopes to begin that conversation with a public event that will bring together representatives from diverse constituencies who rely on encrypted platforms. Discussion will focus on the ramifications of these decisions, what we would like to see changed about the products, and protective principles for initiatives that aim to police private digital spaces. We hope Apple and other tech companies will join us as well. You can find out more soon about this upcoming event by visiting our events page.
Read further on this topic:
- If You Build It, They Will Come: Apple Has Opened the Backdoor to Increased Surveillance and Censorship Around the World
- How LGBTQ Content is Censored Under the Guise of "Sexually Explicit"
- EFF Joins Global Coalition Asking Apple CEO Tim Cook to Stop Phone-Scanning
- Apple’s Plan to Scan Photos in Messages Turns Young People Into Privacy Pawns
- 25,000 EFF Supporters Have Told Apple Not To Scan Their Phones
- Delays Aren't Good Enough—Apple Must Abandon Its Surveillance Plans
- Don’t Stop Now: Join EFF, Fight for the Future at Apple Protests Nationwide
- Why EFF Flew a Plane Over Apple's Headquarters