For immediate release: September 13, 2021
Contact: Caitlin Seeley George, Fight for the Future: email@example.com, 978-852-6457 Joe Mullin, EFF: firstname.lastname@example.org Albert Fox Cahn, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.): email@example.com
Protesters with banners and signs are gathering outside Apple stores in major cities across the US, demanding the company commit to never implementing its misguided on-device photo and message scanning proposal
The night before Apple’s much-hyped iPhone 13 rollout tomorrow, the company is facing protests at its retail stores across the US. Organized by Fight for the Future, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and a network of volunteers, the protests are demanding that Apple permanently shelve their dangerous proposal to install photo and message scanning malware on millions of people’s devices. The company already announced it was delaying the misguided proposal after widespread backlash from security experts and human rights experts. Protesters are calling on them to publicly commit to never implementing it.
Protests are organized in Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Portland (OR), Minneapolis, Aventura, FL, Tucson, and Houston. While Apple may have recently announced it would postpone the rollout of its scanning software, technologists, human rights organizations, and Apple users are unwilling to let up until it is fully cancelled.
SEE PHOTOS AND VIDEO OF PROTESTERS AVAILABLE FOR USE BY PRESS HERE: https://drive.google.com/drive/u/0/folders/19Stvm1FAusRHffVR4ngPfP2bi3qRWSHl
Groups say that if Apple moves forward with this plan, it will have massive consequences—not only on the phones of millions of people, but on everyones’ ability to communicate without being under constant surveillance. As a purported champion of privacy, Apple should use its position in the industry to protect more people, including children, by encrypting iCloud and addressing security vulnerabilities in iMessage.
“Apple can’t just shove this horrible phone scan plan to the side in order to avoid bad press during its Apple Event,” says Caitlin Seeley George (she/her), campaign director at Fight for the Future. “If Apple moves forward with installing this software it would be a total game changer—opening up the door to unprecedented surveillance and forcing the entire communications industry to follow suit. We can’t let this happen, which is why people are showing up to call out Apple’s hypocrisy and demand it put an end to this phone scan plan.”
“Let’s be perfectly clear: you can’t be a values-driven privacy-focused company and an aspiring monopoly with authoritarian policies at the same time,” added Fight for the Future director Evan Greer (she/her). “Apple’s proposal to forcibly install what amounts to malware on millions of people’s phones is just the latest misstep from a company that already has a dodgy track record when it comes to human rights. Apple’s glimmering reputation as the good guys of Silicon Valley is crumbling. If they truly care about the safety of our children, and ensuring they grow up in a future where basic rights are protected, Apple should be expanding and strengthening encryption on their devices, not undercutting it. Listen to security experts. Encrypt iCloud and fix the vulnerabilities in iMessage. Publicly commit to never implementing on-device content scanning.”
“Users want the devices they have purchased to work for them—not to spy on them for others,” said Joe Mullin, a policy analyst on EFF’s activism team. “Delaying the program is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough. Apple needs to take the next step to protect its users and abandon the program.”
“Apple promises us privacy, but delivers surveillance,” said Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn. “This software will almost certainly make mistakes, and when it does, the results could be deadly, particularly for LGBTQ+ youth. Apple’s software can be hijacked by authoritarian governments in the future to scan users’ devices, giving repressive regimes unprecedented powers to suppress dissent. The same tool that scans for photos today could easily scan for religious or political texts tomorrow.”