Service of Surveillance Galore: Where/How to Remove the Worm from the Fruit

September 16th, 2021

Categories: Phones, Smartphones, Spy, Spyware, Surveillance


Image by Pit Saaler from Pixabay

I wrote two summers ago about people who welcome surveillance devices into their homes and hotel rooms with Alexa and similar gadgets. It’s easy to avoid such intrusion: Don’t buy into the trend.

Sometimes, however, we are dupes.

Early in August we learned about Apple’s “ability to scan iPhone photos and alert the authorities if any of them contain child sexual abuse material (CSAM),” Sara Morrison reported on vox.com. “While fighting against child sexual abuse is objectively a good thing, privacy experts aren’t thrilled about how Apple is choosing to do it,”.

The 20-something who first told me about this development replied “precisely” when I commented that this isn’t good news for couples who don’t want strangers reviewing their photo albums.

Morrison wrote: “Apple’s new ‘expanded protections for children’ might not be as bad as it seems if the company keeps its promises. But it’s also yet another reminder that we don’t own our data or devices, even the ones we physically possess. You can buy an iPhone for a considerable sum, take a photo with it, and put it in your pocket. And then Apple can figuratively reach into that pocket and into that iPhone to make sure your photo is legal.”

But that’s not all.

Nicole Perlroth covered the latest intrusion in her New York Times article “Apple Issues Emergency Security Updates to Close a Spyware Flaw.”

She reported that “Apple issued emergency software updates for a critical vulnerability in its products on Monday after security researchers uncovered a flaw that allows highly invasive spyware from Israel’s NSO Group to infect anyone’s iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or Mac computer without so much as a click.”

Called Pegasus, nobody knows that a criminal or government is inspecting their devices.

The spyware “can turn on a user’s camera and microphone, record messages, texts, emails, calls — even those sent via encrypted messaging and phone apps like Signal — and send them back to NSO’s clients at governments around the world.”

In her article Perlroth provides the easy step-by-step to protect your devices by security update that you must initiate: It doesn’t happen automatically.

Even if you don’t own an Apple device–oops, I mean use–are you concerned about the potential accessibility to strangers of part if not much of your life? Has it always been like this only before citizens didn’t hand it to others on silver platters?


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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7 Responses to “Service of Surveillance Galore: Where/How to Remove the Worm from the Fruit”

  1. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    It may be pertinent to consider last week’s judgment in the Epic case.

    I wonder if developers (who are no longer absolutely controlled by Apple) will be able to develop apps that can prevent this type of intrusion?

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hussein,

    I haven’t read about any to prevent Apple from trolling for child porn images but you can download from settings in Apple products a preventative against the spyware.

    I don’t download games and don’t know anything about the case Epic lost in its claim Apple was a monopoly in the game business.

  3. lucrezia Said:

    Like everything in this world, everything has a price. Lack of surveillance permits crimes, often murders, go unpunished, while it’s existence can foster unwelcome, and at times, illegal intrusions of privacy. Privacy in a hotel room is a two edged sword. It protects the hotel from extra non-paying guests, but spies on legitimate intimacies. Now what? I’ll leave that to those with greater wisdom than mine!

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I’d be curious to know how many people who use Apple products know that they don’t own their gadgets for which they may have paid $1,000+ or that the company, not a law enforcement arm, can access their photos even if the reason is valid.

    The breakthrough spyware happened a while ago. How many know about it and that there is a way to protect their devices from intrusion? One would think that the tech company could notify iPhone users of the download to fix it. I never got a notice though I get others about updates.

  5. lucrezia Said:

    Impossible to say. Lack of privacy makes headlines, but who’s listening? By the looks of those who are addicted to these devices, very few.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    Algorithms or some tech program that Apple will use when searching photo collections for child porn can be mistaken. A friend, who worked for a mega-corporation, couldn’t understand why his work computer suddenly shut down. He realized why only later. To prepare for a business trip he was looking up road maps [this was before GPS or WAZE and other apps that guide you in your travels]. Once in his rental car he saw a sign for his destination–Middlesex County, NJ. The company didn’t want employees searching porn sites at work. When he typed in Middlesex the program picked up MiddleSEX. BAM. Closed! But wrong. Will baby-splashing-in-bathtub videos be detected as child porn?

  7. MARTHA TAKAYAMA Said:

    I didn’t know that I didn’t own my apple products! I do know that I feel we have no secrets or privacy in today’s digital world. I never forget that my grandfather always said “Never put anything in writing that you wouldn’t want the Tsar to read.” Now one has also to be wary of anything said over the phone. It is a frightening reality and very uncomfortable to ignore.

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