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Apple Will Keep Clarifying This CSAM Mess Until Morale Improves – Gizmodo

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Photo: Mladen Antonov/AFP (Getty Images)

Last week, Apple announced new tools to detect and report child pornography and sexually explicit materials. It’s a noble mission and no one’s going to argue against catching child predators. That said, the rollout has turned into a debacle of epic proportions.

The controversy centers around two features Apple says it will deploy later this year in iOS 15 and iPadOS 15. The first involves scanning photos that have been shared to iCloud for child sex abuse materials (CSAM). The second involves scanning messages sent to and from children’s accounts to stop them from sharing explicit images. (If you want a more detailed dive into how these features work, you can read more here.)

As soon as these two features were announced, privacy and security experts sounded the alarm that, however well-intentioned, Apple was building a “backdoor” that could be misused by police or governments and create new risks. Apple replied with a lengthy FAQ. Thousands have since signed an open letter asking Apple to halt its work on the features and reaffirm its commitment to end-to-end encryption and user privacy. Yesterday, a Reuters report claimed that internally, Apple employees are also raising concerns. In a bid to calm fears, the company also promised that it wouldn’t allow governments to abuse its CSAM tools as a surveillance weapon. Today, Apple has yet again released another PDF titled “Security Threat Model Review of Apple’s Child Safety Features” in the hopes that further clarification may clear up “misunderstandings” about how this all works. (Spoiler: It won’t.)

This has been a public relations nightmare that is uncharacteristic for Apple. The company has gadget launches down to a science, and its events are always slick, well-produced affairs. After the backlash, Apple has quietly admitted that perhaps it hadn’t fully thought out its communication strategy for two complex tools and that perhaps everyone’s confused because it announced these two features simultaneously, despite the fact that they don’t work in the same way. It’s since launched an aggressive campaign to explain why its tools don’t pose a privacy and security threat. And yet journalists, experts, and advocacy groups remain befuddled. Hell, even Apple software chief Craig Federighi looked flustered while trying to break it all down for the Wall Street Journal. (And Federighi is normally a cool cucumber when it comes to telling us how it all “just works.”)

Some of the confusion swirls around whether Apple is scanning your actual iPhone for CSAM. According to Federighi, the answer is both yes and no. The scanning occurs during the iCloud upload process. Some of it happens on your phone, some of it happens in the cloud. There have also been questions as to how Apple figured out that the tools have an error rate of “one in 1 trillion.” It appears that answer boils down to advanced math. In all seriousness, Apple says it made its calculations using the most conservative parameters possible but it doesn’t answer the original question: Why should we trust that number? Apple also set its reporting threshold to 30 CSAM-matched images, which feels like an arbitrary number, and the company didn’t have an answer as to why that is beyond the fact that child predators purportedly have a much higher number of CSAM images.

In a briefing today with reporters, Apple tried to give further assurances its tools have simply been mischaracterized. For instance, it said its CSAM hash database would be created from an intersection of hashes given by two or more child safety organizations operating in separate sovereign jurisdictions. Or basically, the hashes won’t be provided by any one government. It also said there would be no automated reporting, and that it was aware it would have to expand the number of employees on its human review team. Apple also said it would maintain a public list of root hashes of every encrypted CSAM database shipping in every OS that supports the feature. Third-party auditors for each version of the database are more than welcome. Apple also repeatedly stated that these tools aren’t set in stone. Things are still very much in the works, though Apple demurred on whether changes have been made since the brouhaha started.

This is the epitome of getting lost in the weeds. If you take a step back, all this conflict isn’t necessarily about the nuts and bolts of these tools (though, they should certainly be vigorously examined for weaknesses). The conflict is whether these tools should exist at all, and if Apple should be taken at its word when so many experts seem alarmed. What’s surprising is how Apple’s seemed to stumble at reassuring everyone that they can be trusted with this.

It’s too early to say which side will prevail, but this is how it’s all going to go down: Critics won’t stop pointing out how Apple is creating an infrastructure that can be abused, and Apple won’t stop trying to convince us all that these tools are safe, private, and accurate. One side will hammer the other into submission, or at least until they’re too tired to protest any further. The rest of us will remain utterly confused.

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Pfizer sends kids’ COVID-19 vaccine trial data to U.S. FDA – Global News

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Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE on Tuesday submitted initial trial data for their COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 and said they would make a formal request with U.S. regulators for emergency use in the coming weeks.

Coronavirus infections have soared in children, hitting their highest point in early September, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The vaccine, which is already authorized in teens aged 12 to 15 and fully approved for ages 16 and up, induced a strong immune response in the target age group in a 2,268-participant clinical trial, the companies said on Sept. 20.


Click to play video: 'U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines'



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U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines


U.S. to donate half a billion additional Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was authorized in kids aged 12-15 roughly a month after the companies filed for authorization. If the same timeline is followed for this application, younger children could start receiving their shots as soon as late October.

A rapid authorization could help mitigate a potential surge of cases this fall, with schools already open nationwide.

While kids are less susceptible to severe COVID-19, they can spread the virus to others, including vulnerable populations that are more at risk of severe illness.

The companies said they plan to submit the data to the European Medicines Agency and other regulatory authorities.

Read more:
Pfizer launches large study of oral COVID-19 prevention drug

Data from the companies’ trial showed the two-shot vaccine generated an immune response in children that matched what was previously observed in 16-to-25 year olds. The safety profile was also comparable to the older age group, Pfizer said.

The drugmakers are also testing the vaccine in children aged 2-to-5 and those aged 6 months-to-2 years, with data expected in the fourth quarter.

Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine is not yet authorized for use in adolescents in the United States, while it has gained authorization for that age group in Europe.

(Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

© 2021 Reuters

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Trapped miners expected to emerge this morning as rescue operation continues: Vale – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, September 28, 2021 7:54AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:14AM EDT

Thirty-three of 39 miners who were trapped underground in northern Ontario since Sunday have returned safely to the surface, the workers’ union said Tuesday as a rescue operation continued.

United Steelworkers, which represents workers trapped in Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont., said they are pleased with the rescue operation thus far.

“A team of doctors is on site, checking workers as they emerge,” said the union, which represents 30 of the 39 staff members trapped in the mine. “No one has been physically injured in the incident or in the evacuation.”

Vale, the company that owns the mine, said it expects everyone to emerge Tuesday.

The employees were trapped in the mine on Sunday when a scoop bucket being sent underground detached and blocked the mine shaft, Vale said.

As a result, it said the “conveyance system” for taking workers to and from the surface became unavailable.

Vale said the trapped miners have been staying in underground “refuge stations,” some 900 to 1,200 metres underground, as part of the company’s standard procedures.

The workers began making their way out Monday night through a “a secondary egress ladder system,” the company said.

“We thank the impacted employees for their patience and perseverance and the mine rescue teams for their tireless dedication and support,” said Gord Gilpin, head of mining for Vale’s Ontario operations. “This has been an incredible team effort.”

A rescue team met the miners Monday and prepared them for the long journey to the surface.

The union said the miners had to scale a system of ladders, with each ladder being about six metres long and with a staging area at every break.

“When an incident like this unfortunately happens, everyone comes together,” said Nick Larochelle, president of USW Local 6500

“The miners support each other, the highly trained mine rescue teams come together and the whole community waits patiently praying for the safe return of every one of the 39 miners to surface.”

The company said the trapped miners had access to food, water and medicine. The union added that miners had been able to make phone calls to both communicate with rescuers and to call loved ones.

Totten Mine opened in 2014, in Worthington, Ont., and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs about 200 people.

The province’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said an inspection team will investigate the incident once the rescue operation is finished.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2021.

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33 trapped miners safe after rescue, 6 more on long trek out of mine near Sudbury – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Liam Casey, The Canadian Press


Published Tuesday, September 28, 2021 7:54AM EDT


Last Updated Tuesday, September 28, 2021 11:14AM EDT

Thirty-three of 39 miners who were trapped underground in northern Ontario since Sunday have returned safely to the surface, the workers’ union said Tuesday as a rescue operation continued.

United Steelworkers, which represents workers trapped in Totten Mine near Sudbury, Ont., said they are pleased with the rescue operation thus far.

“A team of doctors is on site, checking workers as they emerge,” said the union, which represents 30 of the 39 staff members trapped in the mine. “No one has been physically injured in the incident or in the evacuation.”

Vale, the company that owns the mine, said it expects everyone to emerge Tuesday.

The employees were trapped in the mine on Sunday when a scoop bucket being sent underground detached and blocked the mine shaft, Vale said.

As a result, it said the “conveyance system” for taking workers to and from the surface became unavailable.

Vale said the trapped miners have been staying in underground “refuge stations,” some 900 to 1,200 metres underground, as part of the company’s standard procedures.

The workers began making their way out Monday night through a “a secondary egress ladder system,” the company said.

“We thank the impacted employees for their patience and perseverance and the mine rescue teams for their tireless dedication and support,” said Gord Gilpin, head of mining for Vale’s Ontario operations. “This has been an incredible team effort.”

A rescue team met the miners Monday and prepared them for the long journey to the surface.

The union said the miners had to scale a system of ladders, with each ladder being about six metres long and with a staging area at every break.

“When an incident like this unfortunately happens, everyone comes together,” said Nick Larochelle, president of USW Local 6500

“The miners support each other, the highly trained mine rescue teams come together and the whole community waits patiently praying for the safe return of every one of the 39 miners to surface.”

The company said the trapped miners had access to food, water and medicine. The union added that miners had been able to make phone calls to both communicate with rescuers and to call loved ones.

Totten Mine opened in 2014, in Worthington, Ont., and produces copper, nickel and precious metals. It employs about 200 people.

The province’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, said an inspection team will investigate the incident once the rescue operation is finished.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2021.

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