Apple’s Big iPhone Mistake – Bad News for a Billion Users

As Apple counts down the months counting down to the launch of the iPhone 14 and iOS 16, it suddenly risks a repeat of last year, when its launch plans were almost derailed due to Controversial plan to erase iPhone content. And to make matters worse, a new warning has been issued to the 1 billion+ iPhone users.

A lot has been written in the past two weeks, after Historic European Union decision To clamp down on fenced tech parks, lawmakers agreed that “the largest messaging services (such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) should open up and interact with smaller messaging platforms, if they request it.”

The Digital Markets Law It has many serious repercussions for Apple, such as de-monopolizing its App Store to allow sideloading for the first time, but the impact on iMessage is the most affected.

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The idea that a Signal, Telegram, or even Threema user could send a message to someone on WhatsApp or iMessage dates back to the advent of network interoperability back in the early days of SMS, but there was no choice at the time, SMS was the platform The only mobile phone messaging. While smashing walled gardens with proprietary technology is commendable, there are significant security and technical risks involved.

As I explained last week, The effect of Direct Memory Access (DMA) will be felt even more strongly by WhatsApp, the largest messenger in the world has no other limitations, there is an argument here that it is not broken and does not need to be repaired. Encouraging innovation is one thing, but giving startup platforms access to the huge WhatsApp user base actually risks doing the opposite.

The placement of iMessage and Google Messages from Apple is very different. This is a stock correspondence, and in the case of Apple there is no way for the user to select an alternative SMS client on their device. While Google has taken the lead in pushing RCS – an SMS update, and has now added encryption to the mix, Apple has steadfastly refused to play outside its walled garden.

This is a huge mistake and not in the interest of the 1 billion iPhone users who still skip unsecured SMS messages when they send messages to non-Apple users from their devices. Apple should either be forced to provide its users with the ability to run Signal or WhatsApp, cross-platform and secure, as iMessage alternatives, or it should open up completely to RCS. This is technically difficult, but by not doing so, Apple is essentially preventing the world from moving to SMS v2.

While DMA does go too far in some ways and risks unintended consequences, regulating interoperability among stock messengers on Android and iPhone, enabling users to move forward, and ensuring that network messages are not obstructed, is the right move. Apple’s decision to hold out, reportedly for commercial reasons, was bad news for its users – it’s not in their best interest.

Speaking of bad news for iPhone users, a new report commissioned by Meta and published this week will make reading uncomfortable in Cupertino. A Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) report focuses on the human rights effects of end-to-end encryption on Meta’s plans to extend this security from WhatsApp to Facebook Messenger and Instagram as well. But it also includes a warning that appears to have Apple’s iPhone plans in mind.

There are complications with Meta’s own plans, specifically around the risks of linking encrypted messages to social media platforms, but the bad news for Apple and its 1 billion iPhone users is that the report also defies customer-side scrutiny that Apple introduced into iMessage and still plans to implement at some point. Scans images for known child sexual abuse images.

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BSR warns that “virtually all client-side screening approaches undermine the cryptographic integrity of end-to-end cryptography, which, being so fundamental to privacy, would constitute significant and disproportionate restrictions on a set of rights, and should therefore not be pursued.”

Apple’s argument is that automated scanning on an iPhone to flag potentially illegal content does not present the same privacy risks as scanning everything in iCloud. From a messaging perspective, it has watered down its plans to flag minors sharing potential sexual images to only warning the user. But with that said, iMessage has now opened up the concept of end-to-end encryption checking, and as I’ve argued before, it’s a short line from this to the regulatory insistence on more of the same.

There is of course an interesting development in the Meta and its delegated report is critical of Apple on the privacy front, although it is not named. Apple’s crackdown on Meta last year had a huge impact on the company, and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg has called iMessage before as the biggest competitor to its messaging platforms, especially in the US, so the impact of DMA in Europe on two tech giants would be a popcorn moment. real.

Apple must now backtrack on any plans to introduce customer-side scanning, given the broader implications for users around the world. It was a wrong solution, and it’s better for Apple to admit it, and offer the same public CSAM cloud scan that others have done without any controversy or backlash.

More importantly, Apple needs to have RCS running in the lead up to the release of iPhone 14 and iOS 16. It can use DMA as an excuse to do so. Sticking to its walled garden is increasingly risky for the billion-plus iPhone users and the rest of the world, trapped in an SMS v1 rabbit hole because Apple won’t move forward.

What’s worrying about Apple is that timing on DMA and sharing the long-awaited next steps on CSAM risk more controversy in the run-up to its fall release schedule – again. You can expect both of these issues to generate a lot of headlines over the summer as we discover more.