The End-to-End Edition Saturday, August 7, 2021

Apple Defends Its New Anti-child Abuse Tech Against Privacy Concerns, by Patrick Howell O'Neill, MIT Technology Review

Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, and other big cloud services already scan material stored on their servers for child abuse material so the general premise is not new. The difference here is that some of Apple’s scans will occur on the iPhone itself—and Apple argues that this is the defining pro-privacy feature of the new technology.


Following this week’s announcement, some experts think Apple will soon announce that iCloud will be encrypted. If iCloud is encrypted but the company can still identify child abuse material, pass evidence along to law enforcement, and suspend the offender, that may relieve some of the political pressure on Apple executives.

Apple’s New ‘Child Safety’ Initiatives, And The Slippery Slope, by John Gruber, Daring Fireball

This fingerprint matching for CSAM could pave the way for a middle ground, if Apple unveils end-to-end encryption for iCloud photos and backups in the future. In such a scenario, Apple would have no cryptographic ability to turn your backups or entire photo library over to anyone, but they would be able to flag and report iCloud accounts whose photo libraries exceed the threshold for CSAM database fingerprint matches, including the “visual derivatives” of the matching photos — all without Apple ever seeing or being able to see your original photos on iCloud.

It’s also possible Apple has simply permanently shelved plans to use end-to-end encryption for all iCloud data. No surprise: they’re not saying. But it feels very plausible to me that Apple views this privacy-protecting CSAM detection as a necessary first step to broadening the use of end-to-end encryption.

In Internal Memo, Apple Addresses Concerns Around New Photo Scanning Features, Doubles Down On The Need To Protect Children, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Marineau-Mes writes that while Apple has seen “many positive responses” to these new features, it is aware that “some people have misunderstandings” about how the features will work, and “more than a few are worried about the implications.” Nonetheless, Marineau-Mes doubles down on Apple’s belief that these are necessary features to “protect children” while also maintaining Apple’s “deep commitment to user privacy.”


A New Telescope To Put Stars In Your iPhone, by Jonathan Margolis, Financial Times

Firstly, the software will compensate for light pollution from human sources, or from the Moon, which, when big and boisterous, can mess with the view from more distant objects. This is a huge plus. Secondly, from the accompanying app, you can point the motorised telescope at any one of 5,400 pre-programmed celestial bodies. Just touch where you want to go, and it obligingly whirs into the exact position, as well as giving you information on what you are observing.

Spotify Calls Off Plans To Support AirPlay 2, Frustrating iPhone Users, by Samuel Axon, Ars Technica

iPhone users have been asking for Spotify to add AirPlay 2 support for ages, but yesterday Spotify told users they shouldn't expect the feature to be added any time soon.


The Smart Home Is Flailing As A Concept—because It Sucks, by Jared Newman, Fast Company

The CTA says its stagnant forecast is merely a function of competition, as an influx of device makers drive down the cost of hardware. But as someone who’s been living with various smart home gadgets for several years now, I have a different theory: They’re just not worth a big investment unless you have a limitless supply of time and patience.

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I am in no hurry. I've also lost any appetite to hurry. Maybe when the masking-up requirement is finally dropped -- next year? -- I'll do a little celebration then.

In the meantime, I will have to figure out if I do happen to dine out again -- starting next week -- how I can show my vaccination status.


Thanks for reading.