iPhone users have put up with a lot in recent months but the company’s new CSAM detection system has proved to be a lighting rod of controversy that stands out from all the rest. And if you were thinking of quitting your iPhone over it, a shocking new report might just push you over the edge.
In a new editorial published by The Washington Post, a pair of researchers who spent two years developing a CSAM (child sexual abuse material) detection system similar to the one Apple plans to install on users’ iPhones, iPads and Macs next month, have delivered an unequivocal warning: it’s dangerous.
“We wrote the only peer-reviewed publication on how to build a system like Apple’s — and we concluded the technology was dangerous,” state Jonathan Mayer and Anunay Kulshrestha, the two Princeton academics behind the research. “Our system could be easily repurposed for surveillance and censorship. The design wasn’t restricted to a specific category of content; a service could simply swap in any content-matching database, and the person using that service would be none the wiser.”
This has been the predominant fear regarding Apple’s CSAM initiative. The goal of the technology to reduce child abuse is indisputably important but the potential damage that could come from hackers and governments manipulating a system designed to search your iCloud photos and report abusive content, is clear to all.
“China is Apple’s second-largest market, with probably hundreds of millions of devices. What stops the Chinese government from demanding Apple scan those devices for pro-democracy materials?” ask the researchers.
And critics have plenty of ammunition here. Earlier this year, Apple was accused of compromising on censorship and surveillance in China after agreeing to move the personal data of its Chinese customers to the servers of a state-owned Chinese firm. Apple also states that it provided customer data to the US government almost 4,000 times last year.
“We spotted other shortcomings,” Mayer and Kulshrestha explain. “The content-matching process could have false positives, and malicious users could game the system to subject innocent users to scrutiny.”
And recent history doesn’t bode well. Last month, revelations about the Pegasus project exposed a global business which had been successfully hacking iPhones for years and selling their technology to foreign governments for surveillance of anti-regime activists, journalists, and political leaders from rival nations. With access to Apple technology designed to scan and flag the iCloud photos of a billion iPhone owners, this could go a lot further.
Prior to Mayer and Kulshrestha speaking out, over 90 civil rights groups worldwide had already written a letter to Apple claiming that the technology behind CSAM “will have laid the foundation for censorship, surveillance, and persecution on a global basis.”
Apple has subsequently defended its CSAM system, claiming it was poorly communicated and a “recipe for this kind of confusion” but the company’s responses did little to impress Mayer and Kulshrestha.
“Apple’s motivation, like ours, was to protect children. And its system was technically more efficient and capable than ours,” they said. “But we were baffled to see that Apple had few answers for the hard questions we’d surfaced.”
Now Apple finds itself in a mess of its own making. For years, the company has put considerable effort into marketing itself as the champion of user privacy with the company’s official privacy page declaring:
“Privacy is a fundamental human right. At Apple, it’s also one of our core values. Your devices are important to so many parts of your life. What you share from those experiences, and who you share it with, should be up to you. We design Apple products to protect your privacy and give you control over your information. It’s not always easy. But that’s the kind of innovation we believe in.”
CSAM will launch on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8 and macOS Monterey next month. I suspect for many Apple fans, it will mark the moment to walk away.
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Alberta doctors raise alarm on specialist staff shortages in intensive care wards – Saanich News
The Alberta Medical Association says the province’s high COVID-19 numbers are behind a desperate shortage of specialized staff to care for critical care patients.
“The demand for (intensive care unit) nurses is currently so high that we need to increase the number of patients assigned to each nurse,” the medical association said in a public letter Monday.
“This reduction in staffing ratio is well below our normal standard of care. This will jeopardize the quality of ICU care that we are able to provide.”
The letter was signed by members of the group’s intensive care section.
Alberta’s hospitals and intensive care wards are overwhelmed by critical care patients, most of them stricken with COVID-19. The overwhelming majority are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
Alberta Health Services has been briefing doctors on criteria to use should the health system collapse and they have to make on-the-spot decisions on who gets life-saving care.
Last week, Dr. Paul Parks, the medical association’s head of emergency medicine, said the staffing shortage is affecting care in other ways. Parks said some critical care patients are not being put on available ventilators because there aren’t enough nurses to monitor them.
Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says while typical ICU care is one nurse per patient, an alternative model, known as a hub, is being used to adapt to the pandemic while ensuring care is delivered.
Each hub includes one or two trained intensive care nurses and two to four registered nurses.
“This model partners registered nurses from other areas with existing trained ICU (nurses) to expand the availability of the critical-care nursing skill set to more patients,” said Williamson in an email.
“ICU patients are never cared for by nurses alone. Whole teams work with nurses in ICU, including respiratory therapists and many others. “
In recent weeks, the province has scrambled to create more ad hoc intensive care beds, effectively more than doubling the normal total of 173 to accommodate 312 patients currently receiving critical care.
Staff have been reassigned, forcing mass cancellations of surgeries, including cancer procedures.
Alberta has asked the federal government for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces has said it will respond with eight more intensive care nurses and air transport to take critically ill patients to other provinces.
Almost two weeks ago, Alberta reintroduced gathering restrictions and brought in proof of vaccination requirements for entry to restaurants, bars, casinos, concerts and gyms to try to reduce spread of the virus.
Daily case counts remain well over one thousand and a growing number of doctors and infectious disease specialists are calling for a “firebreak” lockdown, which would include a shutdown of schools, businesses and other activities.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, in a weekend radio interview, rejected a lockdown. He said it would make “no sense for the 80 per cent of the population that is vaccinated” and who are much less likely to transmit the disease and be hospitalized.
Alberta has lagged behind other provinces in vaccination. Kenney and his United Conservative government have been trying to persuade more people to get their shots by offering $1-million prize draws, other gifts and, more recently, $100 debit cards.
About 73 per cent of eligible Albertans, those 12 and over, are fully vaccinated, while 82 per cent have had at least one shot.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said it’s time to partner with community groups and health-care professionals to go door to door and help those who are not vaccinated due to health or work concerns or a language barrier.
Those groups could be “having conversations and offering Alberta vaccines right there on people’s doorsteps,” Notley said in Calgary.
—Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Face ID stops working on iPhone 13 after any third-party screen replacements – XDA Developers
Apple just released the iPhone 13 series earlier this month, with four models to choose from: the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Mini, iPhone 13 Pro, and iPhone 13 Pro Max. The phones are a step up from previous models, with smoother displays and enhanced cameras, but the iPhone 13 series appears to be a downgrade from earlier iPhones in at least one regard — Face ID will stop working after anyone except Apple (or an Apple-authorized repair center) replaces your screen.
The below video from Phone Repair Guru (via MacRumors) shows the displays on two iPhone 13 phones being swapped. Even though the displays are genuine Apple parts, and the screen assembly doesn’t contain any components directly related to Face ID, the result is that Face ID no longer works.
It’s not clear at the moment if this is a software bug, or yet another measure against unauthorized iPhone repairs. Apple has become increasingly hostile to third-party repairs over the past few years. Apple has its own Independent iPhone Repair Program, which provides select companies or third-party repair centers with genuine Apple parts and repair manuals. However, an iFixit report from last year pointed out that it can take several months for repair centers to join the program, and Apple often sells parts to repair centers for high prices. In some cases, the cost for parts exceed what Apple would charge to perform the entire repair.
Apple has not yet published a statement about Face ID and third-party repairs. If Face ID is intended to break, it would likely only give more momentum to the ‘Right to Repair’ movement, which has pushed governments around the world to force electronics manufacturers to make replacement parts and repair manuals readily available. U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order in July that called for the FTC to establish guidelines for device repairs, and other countries around the world are in various stages of crafting similar legislation.
Signal, the encrypted messaging app, is currently down for many users (Update: it's back) – Yahoo Canada Shine On
Update 2: Signal is now back up for “99% of users,” according to its Twitter account.
Update: In a tweet, Signal said the disruption is due to a hosting outage.
Signal is down for many users right now. Its status website says the encrypted messaging app is “experiencing technical difficulties” and many people are getting an in-app error message that says the same thing. The company says it is “working hard to restore service as quickly as possible.” TechCrunch has contacted Signal for comment.
Signal’s in-app error message
According to Downdetector.com, users started reporting outages around 11:05 PM Eastern Standard Time this evening, and it appears to be affecting people around the world.
Over the past few months, Signal has continued to build out its feature set, adding a default timer for disappearing messages that automatically applies the settings to all new conversations.
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