First off, I’m highly biased towards Apple. Have been since 2007. I camp for every major release. Yeah, one of those people. So that follows comes from love.
They just fumbled this one. To me it wasn’t completely about what they did or didn’t do. To me this is 90% a messaging problem. They fired their “trust us we’re Apple” gun one too many times, and this time it didn’t land.
Here’s what I think they should have said:
- Most big tech companies have CSAM policies where a database is looked for within your media, and reported if found.
- We absolutely see the need for CSAM protections, but have been extremely wary of building such a capability in the past due to our heavy emphasis on privacy.
- So we’ve been working for years on a solution that would allow us to do both: protect children, and protect privacy.
- Today we’re announcing that this system is now complete, and we’re ready to roll it out.
- It looks for this and this, and protects your privacy with this and this.
- TL;DR: The whole industry already does this, and now we’ve implemented our own version that is more privacy-focused than what currently exists.
The key, as you probably see, is to point out that this is a common, normal thing. And that they were holding out on their implementation to be MORE privacy-protecting.
Instead, the message landed like this:
Nobody else is doing this, because they protect your privacy. We’re the first to implement anything like this, and we’re going to go through your stuff in the following ways and report it to the government if we see something we don’t like.
That’s bad. Real bad.
I’m worried they’ll lose users and market share over this for many, many years. And I think it’s largely a communications issue.
Their second issue that bothers me is that this same communications problem might have opened the door to government to ask for more stuff. Or China, for example.
They had a very firm stiff arm out saying, “Not on my watch.” before (see FBI/San Bernadino), but now they seem to have said there exists a new mechanism for 1) looking for things, and 2) reporting on things.
So the next time a San Bernadino happens, it feels like the government will have more leverage to force the door open.
Anyway, I remain a fanboy, but it doesn’t mean I have to like or defend everything they do. I put integrity above all allegiances.
So, yeah. This one disappointed me.