Apple Fights Child Sexual Abuse, Raises Questions About Privacy

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Apple’s plan to scan its users’ iCloud photos for known images of child sexual abuse. Apple says it can do the scans without actually looking at users’ private photos, by looking for a unique digital fingerprint that photos leave.

The move drew swift, and mixed, responses from security experts. “It is an absolutely appalling idea, because it is going to lead to distributed bulk surveillance of . . . our phones and laptops,” Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge, told the Financial Times here.

Will it, though? Apple has fought a push from governmental authorities in the U.S. and elsewhere to open up a “back door” into phone encryption that would allow police to access private information. And Apple says that this scan for child sexual abuse images is a unique case: A database of those images already exists, and it’s possible for Apple to search user devices for the offending material without compromising privacy. Consumers who don’t want their devices searched can turn off iCloud.

Regardless, this move from Apple will be precedent-setting. It will test consumer trust of Apple, which for years has been building sophisticated methods to improve and secure its products using customer data, without actually storing and seeing that data. And it will force competitors to match Apple’s stance, or explain why they won’t.

Coming up today on CNBC’s TechCheck, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT …

Confluent CEO Jay Kreps, Dropbox CEO Drew Houston, OpenText CEO Mark Barrenechea, Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau

While you were sleeping …

The chairman of Huawei said the Chinese technology company’s “aim is to survive” as revenue fell almost 30% in the first half of the year. The Shenzhen-headquartered company, which was put on the U.S. trade blacklist in 2019, announced Friday that it generated 320.4 billion yuan ($49.6 billion) in revenue in the first half of 2021. It’s a significant fall from the 454 billion yuan that Huawei recorded in the first half of 2020. CNBC

Software developers with white-sounding names may have more success on GitHub than developers whose names are perceived as Black, Hispanic or Asian-Pacific Islander, according to a recently published study. Protocol

In the broader world …

Hiring rose in July at its fastest pace in nearly a year despite fears over Covid-19′s delta variant and as companies struggled with a tight labor supply, the Labor Department reported Friday. CNBC

On the horizon …

8/11: I interview LinkedIn founder and Microsoft board member Reid Hoffman at the Economic Club of Chicago. Register here.

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