Is Apple Spying On Users or Helping Fight Human Trafficking With Their New Program?

This article was written on a whim, after a friend of mine tagged me to an article on Facebook regarding the topic I'll discuss, asking my thoughts on this. Apple recently announced that they will soon begin scanning users' photos for CSAM (Child Sexual Abuse Material). The scanning tool, "neuralMatch," will view a user's pictures and if it finds any child porn, it will be sent to an actual worker who will then review if the child porn is legit. If so, the person's Apple account will be disabled and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will receive notification. Apple also said they will find if a user searches for anything related to child porn and blur any inappropriate images on a child's iPhone. This is causing division. Some are praising Apple for aiming to fight child porn and human trafficking, while others say that Apple will use this technology to spy on their users.

First off, now that child porn users know that Apple will be checking their photos, they won't use Apple anymore. Their life won't change, nor will they give up viewing child porn

Numerous researchers or experts in this field have raised their concerns about the potential abuse of power with Apple scanning photos. Matthew Green of Johns Hopkins University, has stated his views on the system Apple will use, saying it "could be used to frame innocent people by sending them seemingly innocuous images designed to trigger matches for child pornography." (Source: NPRThis is a major concern. 

Apple users worry that seemingly innocent pictures of their child, like of their child using the bathroom for the first time, could cause them to be arrested for child porn. Someone commented on the article shared to me that "Next year, That funny picture of your 2 year old potty training  and peeing in the backyard gets you 5 years in the slammer."

Additionally, people are raising their concern to the fact this is infringing on our freedom. Spying on individual citizens is a MAJOR infringement. I think this is the main issue of Apple. They don't understand, or choose to ignore this. If the government (American or foreign) decides they want to use Apple's technology to spy on Americans, they will be able to. Then they can take whatever actions they want against these Americans. For instance, if you attended a public event without a mask, they can be receive punishment by the government. This does provide reasonable concern for Apple users.

In my research for this article, I discovered that there is an open letter signed by 5,000 organizations and individuals asking Apple to reconsider its approach to tracking CSAM. The letter states in the opening paragraph that "While child exploitation is a serious problem, and while efforts to combat it are almost unquestionably well-intentioned, Apple's proposal introduces a backdoor that threatens to undermine fundamental privacy protections for all users of Apple products."

What's the real solution then? As someone who wants to see child porn and human trafficking obliterated off this earth, it's simple. We shouldn't be spying on individuals. Social media platforms should be scanned. As I've written numerous times, social media is responsible for over half of child sex trafficking cases. Instead of looking at people's private information, we should be holding these big tech companies accountable and take action against them. 

The issue isn't of what Apple is preparing to do, but what will happen in the end. If the government uses this technology for their own purpose, no one will have the right to privacy. I do think we need to do more to fight human trafficking and child sex trafficking, but spying on Americans isn't the best solution. Apple, as well as any other company similar to Apple, needs to find a healthy balance between tackling the issue of child exploitation and protecting/respecting the privacy of their users.

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