As Apple counts down the months before launching the iPhone 14 and iOS 16, it suddenly risks a repeat of last year, when its launch plans were nearly derailed by a Controversial plan to scan iPhone content. Apple has a big problem, it has promised to review last year’s controversial decision. Now that’s getting worse, with new game-changing regulations and a stark warning aimed at billions of their iPhone users.
Much has been written in the last two weeks, after EU landmark decision to control the walled gardens of technology, with its lawmakers agreeing “that the largest messaging services (like Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, or iMessage) will have to open up and interact with platforms.” smaller messaging platforms, if they ask for it.”
The Law of the Digital Market there are some serious ramifications for Apple, such as ditching its App Store monopoly to allow first-time sideloading, but it’s the impact on iMessage that will hit the hardest.
The idea that Signal or Telegram or even Threema users can message someone on WhatsApp or iMessage echoes the advent of network interoperability in the early days of SMS, but when there was no option, SMS is the only mobile messaging platform. While the demolition of walled gardens with proprietary technology is welcome, there are major technical and security risks.
As I explained last week, The impact from DMA will be most clearly felt by WhatsApp, the world’s largest messenger with no strings other than its bow, there’s an argument here that it’s not broken and doesn’t need fixing. Driving innovation is one thing, but giving startups access to WhatsApp’s massive user base actually risks doing the opposite.
The situation for Apple’s iMessage and Google Messages is very different. These are pre-existing messengers, and in the case of Apple, there is no way for users to choose an alternative SMS app on their device. While Google took the lead in rolling out RCS—an update to SMS and now adding encryption to the mix—Apple has staunchly refused to play outside of its walled garden.
This is a huge mistake and doesn’t benefit the billions of iPhone users who are still plagued with insecure SMS when they text non-Apple users from their devices. Apple should either be forced to give users the ability to run Signal or WhatsApp, both platform and secure, as iMessage alternatives, or it should be open to RCS entirely. This is technically difficult, but by not doing so, Apple is essentially preventing the world from moving to SMS v2.
While DMA goes a bit too far in some ways and risks unintended consequences, tweaking the ability to work between stock messengers on Android and iPhone, allows users to move forward. , which ensures unhindered network messaging, is a step in the right direction. Apple’s decision to withhold, allegedly for commercial reasons, is bad news for its users – it’s not in their interest.
Speaking of bad news for iPhone users, a new report commissioned by Meta and published this week will make readers in Cupertino uncomfortable. The Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) report on the Human Rights Impact from end-to-end encryption focuses on Meta’s plans to extend such security from WhatsApp to include Facebook Messenger and Instagram. But it also includes a warning that appears to be Apple’s iPhone plans.
There are complications in Meta’s own plans, especially around the dangers of linking encrypted messaging to social networking platforms, but bad news for Apple and its billions of iPhone users. they are also reportedly challenging the client-side scanning feature that Apple introduced to iMessage and still plan to roll out at some point in time to scan photos for known images of child sexual abuse.
“Nearly all proposed client-side scanning methods,” warns the BSR, “undermines the cryptographic integrity of end-to-end encryption, since it is so fundamental to privacy that it will constitute significant, disproportionate restrictions on a range of rights and are therefore unchallenged. ”
Apple’s argument is that automatic scanning on iPhones to tag illegal content may not pose the same privacy risks as scanning everything in iCloud. From a messaging perspective, it has downplayed its plans to report minors sharing sexually explicit images just to warn users. But even so, iMessage has now ushered in the concept of end-to-end encrypted scanning, and as I’ve argued before, it’s a short run from this to the regulator’s claim on many the same thing.
Of course, there’s an interesting twist in the Meta and its authorized report that criticizes Apple in terms of privacy, though it’s not named. Apple’s crackdown on Meta over the last year has had a major impact on the company, and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg has previously called iMessage the biggest competitor to its own messaging platforms, especially in America. two tech giants will be a real popcorn moment.
Apple should now back away from any plans to introduce client-side scanning, with bigger implications for users around the world. It’s the wrong solution, and Apple would do well to acknowledge this, and offer the same public cloud scanning method for CSAM that others have implemented without any controversy or reaction. How fierce.
More seriously, Apple needs to enable RCS in the near future with iPhone 14 and iOS 16. It may use DMA as an excuse to do so. Sticking with the walled garden is becoming increasingly risky for the billions of iPhone users and the rest of the world, stuck in the SMS v1 rabbit hole because Apple won’t move forward.
The worry for Apple is that time on DMA and sharing of its long-awaited next steps on CSAM both risk further controversy in the run-up to its fall launch schedule — again. You can expect both of these issues to make a lot of headlines throughout the summer as we learn more.