Apple Applauded and Criticized for Expanding iCloud Encryption

THE apple announced yesterday that even more data from the icloud will be end-to-end encrypted, including (for the first time ever) backups of devices, contacts, messages, photos, and more. The measure, however, caused mixed reactions among organizations that defend the privacy of online users and public safety agencies.

As we reported, the iCloud Advanced Data Protection will be optionally available and will keep most of your iCloud data safe even in the event of a cloud data breach. Some app data, however, will remain unencrypted end-to-end, such as Mail, Contacts and Calendar.

positive reaction

Among those who celebrated the news is the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a group that has long urged Apple to take more measures to protect user privacy. Following yesterday’s announcement, the organization released a statement applauding the new feature and Apple’s commitment to privacy.

We applaud Apple for listening to experts, child rights advocates and users who want to protect their most sensitive data. Encryption is one of the most important tools we have for maintaining privacy and security online. That’s why we included the requirement that Apple allow users to encrypt iCloud backups in the campaign. Fix It Already that we launched in 2019.

The EFF also celebrated the fact that Apple has ceased development of the tool that would search for child pornography content on its devices, which was originally announced last year and has accumulated a lot of criticism since then.

Back to iCloud’s new security feature, CEO1 of signalMeredith Whittaker, also declared that Apple’s decision to offer end-to-end encryption “is great”, as reported by the The Washington Post🇧🇷

There was enough pressure and narrative work for them to see the side of the story brewing. It’s really amazing.

fight for the futureanother online privacy advocacy group, said the move finally brings the company’s privacy-focused marketing to reality.

Apple’s reputation as a pro-privacy tech company is at odds with the reality that iCloud backups are not protected by end-to-end encryption. This news means that people’s messages, documents and personal data will be protected from authorities, hackers and Apple itself.
Despite claims from law enforcement (and years of pressuring Apple NOT to end-to-end iCloud encryption), encryption makes people safer, not less safe. This will improve human rights and digital security globally, especially for people and communities that are already under surveillance.

negative reaction

As we said, some government bodies reacted differently. To The Washington PostO FBItwothe world’s largest intelligence agency, said it was “deeply concerned” about the role.

According to them, end-to-end encryption makes their work difficult.

This undermines our ability to protect the American people from criminal acts ranging from cyberattacks and violence against children to drug trafficking, organized crime and terrorism. In this era of cybersecurity and demands for “security by design”, the FBI and law enforcement partners need “lawful access by design”.

Former FBI employee Sasha O’Connell told the The New York Times that “it’s great to see companies prioritizing security”, but stressed that you need to “keep in mind that there are trade-offs”, one being the impact of “decreasing law enforcement access to digital evidence”.

Happy but not so much

already the Surveillance Technology Oversight Projector STOP, called Advanced Data Protection “essential and overdue”. Despite the announcement, the group is “disappointed” that the feature will not be enabled by default.

Fox Cahn, executive director of the group, said:

It’s nice to see Apple’s privacy protections reaching their sales pitch, but making these protections optional will leave most users vulnerable. For years, Apple has publicized its privacy history, leaving its users vulnerable, particularly to police surveillance. Much of the data users store on iCloud is just one court order away from becoming a policing tool. With these changes, Apple will follow the privacy best practices that other companies have followed for years. But it’s disappointing that users have to accept many of these new protections, leaving the vast majority at risk.

The group, it is worth noting, has also criticized the development of Apple’s feature against child abuse, as well as calling for the suspension of sales of AirTags – given the tracker’s potential to serve as a stalking tool.

Mark Gurman, da Bloomberg🇧🇷 believe that the feature will eventually become something standard — Apple probably just needs some time to “educate” users, avoiding the risk of losing all their data if they forget their passwords.

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