Apple’s and the EU’s plans for photo scanning are described as “dangerous technology” by experts

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Photo: Victoria Song/Gizmodo – According to cybersecurity experts, the EU may submit a proposal this year that would authorize CSAM scanning. According to the New York Times, more than a dozen cybersecurity experts are criticizing Apple and the European Union’s intentions to scan photographs on people’s phones for CSAM (known child sexual abuse materials). Experts claim picture scanning technology is not only useless, but also “hazardous technology,” according to a 46-page report.

According to the New York Times, the specialists began their research before Apple unveiled its CSAM intentions in August. Because the EU revealed papers last year indicating the government planned to create a similar program that searched encrypted devices for not only CSAM but also organized crime and terrorism. The researchers also anticipate that a proposal to enable this technology in the EU might be made this year.

The technology works by scanning photographs on your phone before sending them to the cloud and encrypting them. After that, the pictures are compared to a database of known CSAM images.

Despite Apple’s attempts to explain how the feature worked and the posting of lengthy FAQs, security and privacy experts were certain that Apple had created a “back door” that could be used by governments and law enforcement to spy on law-abiding individuals. Apple attempted to assuage such worries by stating that it would not allow governments to utilize its capabilities in this manner. Those assurances did not satisfy experts at the time, and some researchers claimed they had reverse-engineered the system and manipulated it to report false positives.

In the face of the outcry, Apple put the initiative on hold in early September. Putting something on hold isn’t the same as turning it off. Instead, Apple stated that it will require some more time to polish the feature, but did not elaborate on how that revision process would work or what the new release timetable would be.

The worrying part is that even if Apple abandons its CSAM ambitions, the EU was already laying the groundwork for its own version—one with a broader scope. According to the New York Times, the experts released their results now to warn the EU about the perils of opening this specific Pandora’s box.

According to Susan Landau, a professor of cybersecurity and policy at Tufts University, “it’s permitting scanning of a personal private device without any reasonable grounds for anything illegal being done.” “It’s really hazardous.” It poses a threat to business, national security, public safety, and privacy.”

When it comes to the CSAM argument, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. For example, Apple undertook an uncharacteristically sloppy public relations campaign to explain every nut and bolt of their privacy safeguards. (Spoiler alert: Everyone was still perplexed.) The question isn’t whether such a tool can be made secure and private; it’s whether it should exist in this form at all. And if you ask security experts, the unanimous response appears to be “no.”