The Auditability-System Edition Saturday, August 14, 2021

Apple Details The Ways Its CSAM Detection System Is Designed To Prevent Misuse, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

Apple has published a new document today that offers additional detail on its recently-announced child safety features. The company is addressing concerns about the potential for the new CSAM detection capability to turn into a backdoor, with specifics on the threshold it is using and more.

One of the more notable announcements by Apple today is that the system will be able to be audited by third-parties. Apple explains that it will publish a Knowledge Base article with the root hash of the encrypted CSAM hash database. Apple will also allow users to inspect the root hash database on their device and compare against the database in the Knowledge Base article.

Survivors Laud Apple's New Tool To Spot Child Sex Abuse But The Backlash Is Growing, by Bobby Allyn, NPR

"I know that my child's images have been identified hundreds of thousands of times, so there's quite a widespread number of them out there," she said.

Each time the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children finds an image, it notifies Ann.

And to this day, Ann said, "It can be very overwhelming."

New CSAM Detection Details Emerge Following Craig Federighi Interview, by Adam Engst, TidBITS

This was the first time that Apple mentioned auditability within the CSAM detection system, much less multiple levels of it. Federighi also revealed that 30 images must be matched during upload to iCloud Photos before Apple can decrypt the matching images through the corresponding “safety vouchers.” Most people probably also didn’t realize that Apple ships the same version of each of its operating systems across every market. But that’s all that was said about auditability in the video interview.


It now appears that Apple is asking us instead to “Trust, but verify” [...]. We’ll see how security and privacy experts respond to these new revelations, but at least Apple now seems to be trying harder to share all the relevant details.

Apple Defends iPhone Photo Scanning, Calls It An “Advancement” In Privacy, by Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica

Federighi said that critics have misunderstood what Apple is doing. "It's really clear a lot of messages got jumbled pretty badly in terms of how things were understood," Federighi told The Wall Street Journal. "We wish that this would've come out a little more clearly for everyone because we feel very positive and strongly about what we're doing."

Apple Races To Temper Outcry Over Child-Porn Tracking System, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

The tech giant is coaching employees on how to handle questions from concerned consumers, and it’s enlisting an independent auditor to oversee the new measures, which attempt to root out so-called CSAM, or child sexual abuse material.


Augmented Reality Has Already Arrived—In Our Ears, by Lauren Goode, Wired

Wegener thinks there’s an emerging market for apps that take advantage of a huge platform of tiny earbuds. Specifically, apps that augment the real-world environment, the way AR app makers are building layers or “lenses” for phone screens and smart glasses.

The Best Writing Apps For 2021, by Jill Duffy, PC Magazine

Writing apps are different from word-processing apps in that they have spaces where you can organize and access your notes, outlines, previous drafts, and references while your work. The exact set of features varies depending on what you’re writing. Apps that support novelists, for example, have dedicated sections where you list and describe your characters, summarize the plot, and keep notes about what must happen in each chapter. Apps for screenwriters have different tools that help you keep track of each scene’s setting and tally up the number of dialogue lines for each character. A few writing apps work for several genres; they offer templates and stylesheets for novels, graphic novels, dissertations, and even radio plays.

Not Important Enough: 1Password Abandons Its Native Mac App, by Jason Snell, Six Colors

And yet as a longtime Mac user, I find AgileBits’s decision-making process incredibly sad. Because as Fey’s post makes clear, at no point did the company consider keeping the Mac-only version of 1Password alive. AgileBits, once a major Mac developer, decided (for legitimate business reasons, of course) that the Mac’s not a platform that deserves its own bespoke app.


A Year Later, We Can Still Only Change The Default Email And Browser On iOS, by Christine Chan, iMore

iOS 15 is looming just over the horizon, and we've yet to hear anything else about more options for changing default apps. For many of us, we'd like the option of not using the native Apple apps, so this is something that Apple should address sooner rather than later.

Apple-backed Matter Smart Home Standard Delayed Until 2022, by Wesley Hilliard, AppleInsider

Matter is an ambitious project seeking to unify smart home devices under a single protocol and was expected to launch later in 2021. However, it has been delayed until the second half of 2022 due to issues surrounding COVID-19 and implementing the universal standard.

Apple To Address Homeless Encampment On San Jose Property, by Louis Hansen, San Jose Mercury News

Apple will spend millions of dollars on outreach and relocation for residents of a homeless encampment on the tech giant’s property in North San Jose, seeking to address one part of Silicon Valley’s growing, impoverished community that now squats on land owned by the world’s most valuable company.

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Watching a Christams episode on television in August is special.


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