The Legalities of Apple Spying on iPhone Users to Find Sexual Predators
Back in August, it came to light that Apple was planning on using software tools that would scan iPhones for text messages with explicit content as well as child porn. The company was then going to report users who were suspected of harboring illegal sexual content to the authorities. While there may have been good intentions behind this effort, it called into question the power that tech companies have and the legalities of Apple spying on iPhone users to find sexual predators. Is it a violation of our rights? Could it lead to more privacy issues?
If you believe that any company or government entity has invaded your privacy and consumer rights, then it’s time to seek out representation. The Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates provide vigorous representation to clients and are a goal-oriented and values-driven firm. We develop creative strategies to work to win every case, every time and are confident we can help you with your privacy and consumer rights case. Reach out to us today to schedule a consultation.
Apple’s Plan to Scan Devices
Before facing pushback, Apple’s original plan was to scan all the images of customers who are using Apple’s iCloud storage service. The company clarified that this plan would only apply to iPhone users. Still, the consumer rights and privacy concerns are tremendous.
The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf wrote that civil libertarians brought up these questions: “Do we want a society in which the devices that we purchase—and that we must carry to navigate the modern world—are equipped to continuously and remotely monitor us for criminal acts? Or should Americans enjoy undiminished privacy in our personal effects, including photos, when we keep them in digital rather than physical form?”
Will Cathcart, who runs the Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp, said that we have had personal computers for decades, and never before has there been a mandate to scan these devices for unlawful content. “It’s not how technology built in free countries works,” he declared.
Friedersdorf pointed out that under Apple’s plan, it would mean we don’t fully own the devices that store our private information, that tech giants who sell us our devices can include spyware on them, and that the illegal actions of a tiny amount of users would “justify the mass surveillance of data that millions of totally innocent users put on their phone.”
If customers accepted this, he said, then in the future Apple could theoretically scan devices for more than child porn. He also said that Apple and other tech giants could be pressured to bow to governments and give them access to users’ devices for their own political purposes.
The Washington Post backed this up, quoting a foundation that said, “It’s impossible to build a client-side scanning system that can only be used for sexually explicit images sent or received by children… As a consequence, even a well-intentioned effort to build such a system will break key promises of the messenger’s encryption itself and open the door to broader abuses.”
Can Consumers Opt Out?
Since so many groups and individuals have criticized Apple for their scanning technology, the company has backed off of its plans for now. However, if the original plan was in place, customers could not opt out if they were iPhone users and using the cloud. If they deactivated uploading photos to the cloud, then they could get around the spyware, though.
Can You Sue Companies for Privacy Abuses?
If you believe that a company violated your privacy or consumer rights, then you may be able to sue them. The precedent has been set on the federal level and continues to be an issue across the United States.
Right now, there is a class-action lawsuit against Apple because users are alleging that Siri routinely recorded users’ private conversations because of accidental activations. Apple then, allegedly, disclosed these private conversations to third parties.
One Siri user said that their private conversations with their healthcare provider led to them seeing targeted ads for that medical treatment. The judge in the case said that plaintiffs could pursue claims that Apple violated California privacy law as well as the federal Wiretap Act.
There are some services that Apple users can opt out of, though. For instance, you can stop third parties from tracking you over the web browser Safari and decide whether or not you want apps to track you cross-platform.
Apple isn’t the only company that has to deal with privacy and consumers’ rights issues. In December of 2020, the Federal Trade Commission demanded that nine tech and social media companies reveal details on what they do with user data. These companies included Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, Twitter, Snap, WhatsApp, Amazon.com, TikTok owner ByteDance, and Discord. The order came about a week after 48 attorney generals across the United States and the FTC filed lawsuits against Faecbook for unlawfully maintaining a monopoly.
In the past, 11 states and the U.S. Justice Department sued Google, saying that the company was allegedly in violation of competition law. Additionally, the parents of dozens of minors went after TikTok in federal court, saying that TikTok allegedly collected information on users’ locations, facial characteristics, close contacts, and locations.
Attorney Jay Edelson, who has filed hundreds of class-action lawsuits against tech giants like Uber, Google, and Amazon for allegedly misusing user information, told Fortune that, “Consumers’ data is a commodity—it’s gold; it’s oil. Courts are starting to recognize that companies are misusing it.”
Finding Representation for Your Lawsuit
If you want to sue a company for violating your privacy or consumer rights, then you’ll need to find the right representation. Many times, these companies have unlimited resources, and you need someone on your side who will fight for you no matter what.
You should look for a Long Beach or Los Angeles privacy or consumer rights’ attorney with years of experience and impressive case results. Robin D. Perry & Associates have these essential qualities you need to have the best chance of success possible.
Contact Robin D. Perry & Associates
If you need a privacy and consumer rights attorney now, then get in touch with the Law Offices of Robin D. Perry & Associates. No matter what, we will fight on your behalf during your time of need. Call us at 562-216-2944 or contact us on our website for a free consultation.
Attorney Robin D. Perry has been part of the Long Beach Community for over 25 years handling business litigation, employment litigation and advising, criminal defense, personal injury and code enforcement defense for businesses.