WhatsApp calls out Apple for scanning your photos, calling it “surveillance”

Aug 9, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

WhatsApp calls out Apple for scanning your photos, calling it “surveillance”

Aug 9, 2021

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

Apple announced last week that it would start scanning your iPhones and iCloud for photos of child sexual abuse. The new feature sparked a lot of controversy and concern among both users and other companies. When asked whether it would apply the same technology, WhatsApp said it wouldn’t, while at the same time calling Apple’s move “surveillance.”

Head of WhatsApp Will Cathcart tweeted that Apple’s move is “the wrong approach and a setback for people’s privacy all over the world.” When asked whether WhatsApp would adopt the same system, he replied with a short “no.”

In a rather long Twitter thread, Cathcart writes that everyone wants to see the abusers caught. However, he points out that there are different ways to contribute to it:

“We’ve worked hard to ban and report people who traffic in it based on appropriate measures, like making it easy for people to report when it’s shared. We reported more than 400,000 cases to NCMEC last year from WhatsApp, all without breaking encryption.”

Cathcart adds that Apple’s approach “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,” Cathcart writes. “That’s not privacy.”

“This is an Apple built and operated surveillance system that could very easily be used to scan private content for anything they or a government decides it wants to control. Countries where iPhones are sold will have different definitions on what is acceptable.”

There’s also a bit of Sinophobia the head of WhatsApp shows in his tweets, wondering if Apple’s technology will be used in China and what kind of content would be considered illegal there. But in the overly politically correct Western society, I believe that this technology could be misused in a variety of ways as well.

Matthew Green of Johns Hopkins Information Security Institute also expressed concerns about Apple’s new system, calling it “a really bad idea”. He warns that it could eventually become “a key ingredient in adding surveillance to encrypted messaging systems.”

WhatsApp has been a part of Facebook since 2014. I find this pretty ironic considering that Facebook hasn’t exactly been known for taking care of its users’ privacy. Only instead of scanning their photos for child abuse, Facebook only leaked passwords of millions of Instagram and Facebook users, multiple times. Whoopsie.

On the one hand, we do need a variety of methods for tracking down child abusers and those who distribute photos and videos of such content. But on the other hand, this technology does sound concerning and there are plenty of ways it could be misused. In addition, there’s so much going on “under the surface” in the realms of the dark web, that whatever is found through iCloud and iPhone scanning is just the tip of the iceberg.

[via Gizmodo]

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 responses to “WhatsApp calls out Apple for scanning your photos, calling it “surveillance””

  1. Don Barnard Avatar
    Don Barnard

    It is mass surveillance.
    They tell you they wanna go after paedophiles because nobody will argue about that.
    One change of your end-user agreement later they’re looking for a political dissidents and rounding up anti-VAX or’s Trump supporters religious extremists and anybody else based on your affiliations and activism

  2. Camera operator Hong Kong Avatar
    Camera operator Hong Kong

    As usual, we start with pedophile which is a great idea,
    Next we move with terrorisms, drunk driving..
    Where is the limit? Who decide if a picture is my son taking a bath sent to his mother and a pedophile picture?