Issues written in this article include child endangerment and abuse material. If you are sensitive to this topic, do not read this article.
This week, Apple has revealed that they will be adding a scanner into all infrastructure connected to their devices in the United States that will scan the iCloud for images suspected to be Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM). Activities to combat CSAM have been increasing over the past 5 years, which is excellent on a protective standpoint.
I am extremely surprised that the United States would even choose to add something like this in their devices, especially from Apple themselves. Apple never really hand over information to law enforcement willingly and even when forced they have protested activity relating to harvesting data from their devices. While this policy is arguably for the greater good, the subsequent events that could occur from wanting stricter control is terrifying.
I do not like this. There are ways to tackle abuse that are less intrusive than automated non-stop information gathering. Apple doing this willingly is also no different than total warrentless surveillance for the FBI. Since the corporation is doing all the information gathering and giving it willingly, the requirement for a warrant from an FBI is no longer required.
However, today I am not talking about the FBI. I am going to be talking about my home nation in this argument.
The UK “Protecting” The Children
End to End Encryption
Many legislation drafts in my nation, the United Kingdom, often use children as the lead excuse for legislations that strip the privacy functions of applications. Coincidentally, stripping these features would also damage the application’s security. The most popular example of this is the UK’s battle against end to end encryption.
As someone who works in the security and forensics industry: privacy, security, and confidentiality in our work is sacrosanct. Good security argues in favour of privacy as a function. Encryption and private messaging does NOT exist to protect and hide the evidence of crime, its made to prevent damage and personal information being read by adversaries like black hat hackers.
They have consistently targeted messenger apps, most popularly WhatsApp (unfortunately: not for the right reasons) because they say that their end to end encryption functionality “protects criminals” and allows a safe space for terrorists. This is complete bullshit, as crimes have been caught by seizing the phone physically or baiting the suspect. If someone is also using WhatsApp, they probably dont care about their security too much either.
PM Boris Johnson uses end to end encryption, hypocritically
Boris Johnson had private messages between him and Dominic Cummings leaked to the press by Cummings a couple months ago. Boris uses WhatsApp himself (source). It’s hypocritical for his cabinet to voice his opposition against such technology when he uses it himself, regardless of if he is aware he is actually using WhatsApp for the security issues.
As much as readers of this site probably are aware about WhatsApp I would also like to just remind you that the app is not good. It’s owned by Facebook, and there are better, free and open source alternatives for you to use. Examples like Matrix and XMPP.
Pornographic content is legal but the government have proposed restrictions to the access of pornographic content. Including an age verification system, and fines or geographic net blocks would be offered to companies who do not comply. Examples of age verification proposed include meeting in person for an ID, and providing personally idenfiable information to a third party.
Restrictions to porn are common and are more of an annoyance than a risk. However, this requirement of personal verification is embarrassing, possibly degrading and extremely ineffective. Children can easily be prevented access from these types of adult resources very easily, without the use of laws that affect the adults. Many modern web browsers come built-in with VPNs, proxies, and encrypted DNS which make the block nothing more than an attempt.
The forced age verification to a third party is also a minefield of security risk. I would never provide personally identifiable information to a random group or company for access to a service. We do not want another Ashley Madison incident. Speaking of forced age verification…
Celebrities Posted a Petition to Require Forced ID on Social Media, Also Completely Oblivious to How Batshit Insane That Is
I saw a picture online of a bunch of verified Twitter accounts posting a petition for the UK Parliament about requiring a verified ID for social media (which luckily was rejected). Here is the petition.
The petition, written by none other than Katie Price (who?) was created to prevent harrassment and targeted attacks. However, the arguments of forced ID verification could also be used to prevent children on social media and prevent attacks against children on social media.
THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST TAKES ABOUT THE INTERNET that you could ever post about. The anonymity against other users of the Internet is what the internet is built from. Social media websites and online communities are built on people using their own identities and names. When you see a YouTuber you don’t think their name but their identity they use online.
Anonymity and privacy on the internet is not just something people use for pleasure. Anonymity is needed for the protection of people who are in disadvantaged communities, working in sensitive environments or using the internet to voice themselves when they are being abused or silenced. Celebrities have no understanding of keeping to themselves because they can reveal everything about themselves and have big businesses and security guards back them up everywhere they go.
These types of things just make me angry, especially from someone who works in the industry. I hate when outsider celebrities are trying to change our work and destroy things we work hard on accomplishing. Privacy and security is more important than ever, dont let them destroy it.
Conclusion part one
Even though I believe the Internet should less welcoming to children, I would still prefer for them to have a space where they are unable to put themselves at harm, such as giving them online resources and safe entertainment that also prevents them from exposing their information or doing something that will embarrass themselves. I started using the Internet when I was 8, however even I made mistakes by going further than I should have.
On the next part of this post, I will talk about how to restrict and keep your children safe properly.>> Home