DEBATE: “Right to privacy” doesn’t extend to viewing child porn

Apple are correct to monitor for and report child pornography to the police.

There has been much debate over Apple’s decision to use an algorithm to detect when known child abuse images are being stored or shared on iPhones, with critics of the move, such as Gript editor John McGuirk, claiming it sets a dangerous precedent that will make further invasions of privacy by corporations more likely.

Missing from the privacy campaign’s assessment however is the acknowledgement that the right to privacy is far from absolute, particularly when it comes to breaking good laws.

For instance, no reasonable person would argue that Islamic terrorists should be protected in their organizing activities because we all have a right to privacy – they shouldn’t be free from surveillance by those tasked with maintaining justice, or if, using an algorithm, Apple want to report people plotting to blow up planes, then that would be a good and proportionate use of monitoring technology.

The inherently evil nature of child pornography, where images of children being raped, molested and tortured are routinely shared online among the most depraved, means individuals and corporations like Apple who can report it, should report it.

Apple are not, of course, becoming a police force, rather they are reporting suspected crimes to the proper authority who can then investigate.

The justice system will continue to work in the same way any allegation is dealt with, making fears about malicious setups or misreporting by the company as much of an issue now as it has always been for the normal person in the offline world – innocent people have every reason to be glad at least some child abusers will be caught with this technology.

The apprehension some feel about it is understandable though, given the genuine infringements on the right to privacy that occur on a daily basis by all sorts of corporations, whether it’s phones listening to conversations and then presenting you with advertisements according to key words you’ve spoken, or attempts by hackers to publish the personal health records of patients.

Technology however can be a good thing when used for a good end and according to right reason.

Indeed, all relevant tech companies should take the lead in making sure child pornography is expunged and eradicated wherever possible online.

There will certainly be abuses of monitoring technology into the future however, regardless of Apple’s decision to report child pornography, with woke corporations already stamping out unpopular opinions, making all sorts of speech verboten on their platforms.

That is ultimately a crisis of rational thought, where Big Tech’s raw power is increasingly being used to silence and punish political opponents, but each issue must be considered on its own merits.

For instance, would privacy campaigners have been in favour of a 1940’s Apple intercepting correspondence between German U-boats? I suspect they would, in what would be another example of the right to privacy being far from absolute.

The Apple decision last week might be a case of the blind squirrel finding the nut, but it also finally heralds a belated push back against online child abuse and child pornography.



DEBATE: Apple: We’re going to scan your devices for Child Porn

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