99 Percent Accurate: Close Enough for PR Output

August 24, 2021

I am not entering a horse in this race, a dog in this fight, or a pigeon in this race. I want to point to a write up in a newspaper in some way very tenuously connected to the former driver of the Bezos bulldozer. That write is “Opinion: Apple’s New Child Safety Tool Comes with Privacy Trade-Offs — Just Like All the Others.”

Right off the bat I noted the word “all.” Okay, categorical affirmatives put my teeth edge the same way Miss Blackburn’s fingernails scraping on the blackboard in calculus class did. “All”. Very tidy.

The write up contains an interesting statement or two. I circled this one in Bezos bulldozer orange:

The practice of on-device flagging may sound unusually violative. Yet Apple has a strong argument that it’s actually more protective of privacy than the industry standard. The company will learn about the existence of CSAM only when the quantity of matches hits a certain threshold, indicating a collection.

The operative word is threshold. Like “all”, threshold sparks a few questions in my mind. Does it yours? Let me provide a hint: Who or what sets a threshold? And under what conditions is a threshold changed? There are others, but I want to make this post readable to my TikTok-like readers.

I liked the conundrum angle too:

The benefit of nabbing abusers in this case may outweigh these hypothetical harms, especially if Apple holds itself to account — and the public keeps on the pressure. Yet the company’s conundrum emphasizes an unpleasant truth: Doing something to protect public safety in the Internet age is better than doing nothing — yet every “something” introduces issues of its own.

Fascinating. I am curious how Apple PR and marketing will respond. Hopefully with fewer unsupported assertions, info about thresholds, and the logician’s bane: A categorical affirmative.

Stephen E Arnold, August 24, 2021


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