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Apple urged to drop plans to scan iMessages, images for sex abuse – Al Jazeera English

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More than 90 policy and rights groups around the world have published an open letter urging Apple to abandon plans for scanning children’s messages for nudity and the phones of adults for images of child sex abuse.

“Though these capabilities are intended to protect children and to reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material, we are concerned that they will be used to censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children,” the groups wrote in the letter, according to a Reuters news agency report on Thursday.

The largest campaign to date over an encryption issue at a single company was organised by the United States-based nonprofit Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT).

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Some overseas signatories in particular are worried about the effect of the changes in nations with different legal systems, including some already hosting heated fights over encryption and privacy.

“It’s so disappointing and upsetting that Apple is doing this, because they have been a staunch ally in defending encryption in the past,” said Sharon Bradford Franklin, co-director of CDT’s Security & Surveillance Project.

An Apple spokesman said the company had addressed privacy and security concerns in a document last week, outlining why the complex architecture of the scanning software should resist attempts to subvert it.

Those signing included multiple groups in Brazil, where courts have repeatedly blocked Facebook’s WhatsApp for failing to decrypt messages in criminal probes, and the Senate has passed a bill that would require traceability of messages, which would require somehow marking their content.

A similar law was passed in India this year.

“Our main concern is the consequence of this mechanism, how this could be extended to other situations and other companies,” said Flavio Wagner, president of the independent Brazil chapter of the Internet Society, which is one of the signatories of the letter.

“This represents a serious weakening of encryption.”

Other signers were in India, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Ghana and Tanzania.

Surprised by the earlier outcry following its announcement two weeks ago, Apple has offered a series of explanations and documents to argue that the risks of false detections are low.

Apple said it would refuse demands to expand the image-detection system beyond pictures of children flagged by clearinghouses in multiple jurisdictions, though it has not said it would pull out of a market rather than obeying a court order.

Though most of the objections so far have been over device scanning, the coalition’s letter also faults a change to iMessage in family accounts, which would try to identify and blur nudity in children’s messages, letting them view it only if parents are notified.

The signers said the step could endanger children in intolerant homes or those seeking educational material. More broadly, they said the change will break end-to-end encryption for iMessage, which Apple has staunchly defended in other contexts.

“Once this backdoor feature is built in, governments could compel Apple to extend notification to other accounts, and to detect images that are objectionable for reasons other than being sexually explicit,” the letter says.

Other groups that signed include the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Access Now, Privacy International and the Tor Project.

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The Witcher’s Geralt of Rivia drops into Fortnite with his mate Doom Slayer

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(Pocket-lint) – Fortnite has always been the king of the crossover and now it’s at it again with Chapter 4 Season 1 with Geralt and Doom Slayer making an appearance.

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The next big thing in Fortnite is now live with Chapter 4 Season 1 getting an all-new map and a whole lot more. One of those things is a new character called Selene, available from the get-go. But things will get interesting for The Witcher fans come mid-season when Epic Games adds Geralt of Rivia as Battle Pass skin.

As always, the Battle Pass costs 950 V-Bucks and as you progress through you’ll unlock items and whatnot. Geralt will be unlocked via that Battle Pass, as will Doom Slayer – of DOOM fame, of course. Other unlockable skins include Massai, Dusty, Nezumi, Helsie, and The Ageless. The Geralt unlock won’t be available until later on in the season, Epic says.

The latest season includes plenty of other tweaks and treats and makes use of Unreal Engine 5.1, making this the best-looking version of Fortnite to date on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

All of this will take place on a brand-new island with new points of interest that include The Citadel, Anvil Square, and Brutal Bastion.

The new season of Fortnite is up and running right now and you can get involved yourself. You can play Fortnite on just about anything right now and the download is of course free.

Writing by Oliver Haslam.

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‘Elden Ring’ Reveals Free PvP Colosseum Update, Hopefully Ahead Of DLC Announcement

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FromSoftware has just released a new trailer for an upcoming free update to Elden Ring that drops tomorrow, Wednesday December 7.

It’s a PvP-focused update to the game which will herd players into battles into the many colosseums doting the map, hence why it’s called the “Colosseum Update.” They just released a new trailer for it, which you can see below:

According to the official press release about the addition, we have some confirmation on what exactly the modes are that will be added:

“The Colosseums of Limgrave, Leyndell and Caelid will open their gates, allowing players to engage in battles such as duels, free-for-alls and team fights.”

In the trailer, we see a traditional 1v1 battle at the start, but it progresses to players fighting each other’s summons, and then finally a 3v3 team fight battle which is well beyond anything the game is currently capable of now.

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Elden Ring has spent many months balancing all of its magic and weapon skills in an effort to try to create more parity in PvP, which has turned out to be a significant part of the game, and the core of the game’s endgame once you’ve done everything in PvE.

There is a theory that I personally subscribe to, that FromSoft is revealing this PvP update now and launching it tomorrow so it will not get drowned out by a potential announcement this Thursday at The Game Awards. There are rumblings, and fervent prayers, that this would be the stage in which they would finally announce sizable, PvE DLC for Elden Ring. We are well, well behind the pacing of past DLC announcements from FromSoft games, given that Elden Ring came out almost ten months ago now, but it’s obviously a bigger game than past ones. Elden Ring DLC repeatedly is brought up as the “World Premiere” at The Game Awards that everyone is hoping to see, and these days, with the demise of E3, it’s pretty much the biggest place in the industry to debut things, outside of first party PlayStation and Xbox showcases.

That’s the hope anyway, but the concrete facts right now are just that this PvP update will come tomorrow, so get your builds ready and find some teammates in order to take on the toughest PvP challenges in the game yet. Should be a lot of fun.

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Witcher 3’s Free DLC Update Doesn’t Have A Switch Release Date Yet

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Image: CD Projekt Red

Next week sees the arrival of The Witcher 3‘s “next-gen” update across multiple platforms, but new information suggests it won’t be coming to the Nintendo Switch on the same date.

Our friends at Eurogamer caught up with CD Projekt Red ahead of the free update’s release, and apparently, there’s “no specific release date yet” for the Nintendo Switch version of the game. All that’s known is it will arrive “later than 14th December”.

Witcher 3 next-gen update producer Ryu Underhill mentioned how the team was “working hard to bring it to [Switch] players” as soon as possible, and more information will be shared in the near future.

When the Switch version of this update does arrive, players can expect the “same fixes and additional content” as other platforms like Xbox One and PlayStation 4. The Switch will also receive cloud-save and cross-progression features, as well as the new Netflix DLC. This new quest will last for about “half-an-hour”, according to Eurogamer:

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“…it’s about half-an-hour’s worth, plus a bit more for a follow-up step. It was flagged as level 15…”

Obviously, the Switch update will not include “next-gen features such as visuals/technical/gameplay improvements, modes” or “other additions” exclusive to next-generation platforms.

Via Eurogamer: “The Witcher Netflix DLC is a new scavenger hunt-style quest that takes place inside The Devil’s Pit in Velen. The Devil’s Pit is the place you find yourself immediately after leaving the starter zone of White Orchard. It’s that big, circular, wooden-fence-ringed place where nothing seems to actually happen. Currently, there are only some humanoid enemies in there, and the big door to the mine is closed. This DLC opens those doors.”

You can see more of this next-generation update in our previous Witcher 3 coverage:

Are you looking forward to trying out this update? Comment below.

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