Drew Harwell, writing on Twitter:
Apple, which says it will refuse government demands to expand its on-device image scanning, currently blocks people from getting the phrase “Human Rights” or “Freedom of the Press” engraved on their iPhone because China doesn’t like it
A thought has been in my head a lot recently regarding Apple’s CSAM scanning — why isn’t the storage space we pay for on iCloud and other cloud services treated like rental property?
That would position us as tenants and the cloud provider as landlords, giving us all the same legal protections. For example, even though the landlord owns the property, they can’t consent to the police searching the premises.
In order for the police to search an apartment or rental property, they need consent from the tenant, a warrant, or evidence that there is an imminent danger.
The evidence of imminent danger argument is the closest, but the issue here is that Apple can’t actually verify what’s in the CSAM database. Sure, they’re told that it’s hashes of CSAM content, but they must trust that this is the case with no way to verify.
They do screen the flagged images before alerting authorities, but then we must trust Apple to do the right thing. Which, based on Drew Harwell’s example above, it’s not clear that we can actually do that.
Bringing it back to the tenant and landlord relationship, though, there are also laws that restrict landlords from entering the property when there is an active tenant. And I would consider looking through the images flagged as a violation of those laws.
(Via Michael Tsai.)