Apple has said it is going to install photo and message scanning software in every device. Governments have been asking for years for a way around Apple’s encryption, and now Apple has caved to the pressure. This puts our privacy and security at risk. These features open a backdoor to increased surveillance and censorship around the world, give ammunition to authoritarian governments wishing to expand surveillance, and are the first steps toward ending truly secure messaging for Apple’s users.
What's At Stake
Apple has historically been a champion of end-to-end encryption, for all of the same reasons that EFF has articulated time and time again. Apple’s compromise here may appease government agencies in the U.S. and abroad, but it is a shocking about-face for users who have relied on the company’s leadership in privacy and security. Apple's system isn't a slippery slope; it's a fully built system just waiting for governmental pressure to make a slight tweak and then deploy for widespread surveillance.
By breaking the privacy promise that your messages are secure, introducing a backdoor that governments will ask to expand, and ignoring the harm its features will cause, Apple is risking not only its privacy-protective image in the tech world, but also the safety of its users.
People have the right to communicate privately without surveillance backdoors or censorship. Apple should make the right decision: keep these backdoors off of users’ devices.
What's Happened So Far
Last week, digital rights organizations delivered 60,000 signatures to Apple from concerned users. Civil society groups around the world, including EFF, ACLU, the Center for Democracy & Technology, and Fight for the Future have all demanded that Apple cancel these planned features. As a result of this activism, Apple has agreed to delay its surveillance plan. We’re glad Apple is listening, but now it’s time for Apple to commit and do the right thing. Apple needs to listen to its customers, to researchers, to human rights activists, to LGBTQ people, and to youth representatives. We are speaking with one voice and asking Apple to abandon its phone scanning tools.
Whether you’re a longtime fan of Apple’s products or you’ve never used an iPhone in your life, we must hold companies accountable for the promises they make to protect privacy and security. Apple has found its way to making the right choice in the past, and we know the company can do it again.
Below, you can find further resources explaining concerns about Apple's surveillance plan.
- EFF's One-Pager On Apple's Plan
- Apple's Plan to "Think Different" About Encryption Opens a Backdoor to Your Private Life
- 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
- The Public Demands Apple Protect Privacy and Not Install Backdoors (Video Announcement of Petition Delivery)
- International Coalition Calls on Apple to Abandon Plan to Build Surveillance Capabilities into iPhones, iPads, and other Products (Center for Democracy and Technology)
- We built a system like Apple’s to flag child sexual abuse material — and concluded the tech was dangerous (Washington Post)
- Apple’s New Child Safety Technology Might Harm More Kids Than It Helps (Scientific American)
- Apple should withdraw plans for new scanning feature (International Press Institute)