Experts Slam Apple’s Child Protection Phone-Scanning Technology

A group of leading cybersecurity experts has spoken out against Apple’s plan to detect child sexual abuse images on iPhones, claiming it amounts to mass surveillance and should be banned.

Earlier this year, Apple announced plans to introduce client side scanning, searching individual devices’ iCloud photo libraries for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Images would be scanned using a technology called NeuralHash and then compared with known CSAM material, before being reported to the authorities.

The plans were delayed last month, with Apple stating that feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others was prompting it to look for improvements.

Now, though, there’s more feedback, and from sources that it’s hard to downplay. In a paper titled Bugs in our Pockets: The Risks of Client-Side Scanning, security and cryptograhy experts Hal Abelson, Ross Anderson, Steven M. Bellovin, Josh Benaloh, Matt Blaze, Jon Callas, Whitfield Diffie, Susan Landau, Peter G. Neumann, Ronald L. Rivest, Jeffrey I. Schiller, Bruce Schneier, Vanessa Teague, and Carmela Troncoso claim the technology goes much too far.

“In this report, we argue that CSS neither guarantees efficacious crime prevention nor prevents surveillance,” they write.

“Indeed, the effect is the opposite. CSS by its nature creates serious security and privacy risks for all society while the assistance it can provide for law enforcement is at best problematic. There are multiple ways in which client-side scanning can fail, can be evaded, and can be abused.”

The main fear is the risk of abuse by repressive governments. While Apple says that only CSAM and terrorist material would be flagged, the researchers aren’t so sure.

“If device vendors are compelled to install remote surveillance, the demands will start to roll in. Who could possibly be so cold-hearted as to argue against the system being extended to search for missing children?” writes Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at the University of Cambridge.

“Then President Xi will want to know who has photos of the Dalai Lama, or of men standing in front of tanks; and copyright lawyers will get court orders blocking whatever they claim infringes their clients’ rights.”

With the EU believed to be considering device scanning as a part of a new law on child protection, the researchers say that it should be a national-security priority to ‘resist attempts to spy on and influence law-abiding citizens’.

And, they point out, the Data Retention Directive has already been struck down on the grounds that such bulk surveillance, without warrant or suspicion, was an unacceptable infringement of privacy, even in the fight against terrorism. Client-side scanning is equally problematic, the researchers say.

“Instead of having targeted capabilities such as to wiretap communications with a warrant and to perform forensics on seized devices, the agencies’ direction of travel is the bulk scanning of everyone’s private data, all the time, without warrant or suspicion,” they write.

“That crosses a red line. Is it prudent to deploy extremely powerful surveillance technology that could easily be extended to undermine basic freedoms?”

I’ve been writing about technology for most of my adult life, focusing mainly on legal and regulatory issues. I write for a wide range of publications: credits include the Times, Daily Telegraph and Financial Times newspapers, as well as BBC radio and numerous technology titles. Here, I’ll be covering the ways content is controlled on the internet, from censorship to online piracy and copyright. You can follow my posts by clicking the ‘ Follow’ button under my name.

Source: Experts Slam Apple’s Child Protection Phone-Scanning Technology

.

Related Contents:

What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans

The recent expiration of federal unemployment benefits likely won’t ease the hiring crunch. It could make it worse. In the past few months, many business owners have grown to begrudge federal pandemic unemployment assistance, which they viewed as providing a disincentive for people to work and thus contributing to a dearth of would-be workers.

With the expiration of that benefit on September 4, 2021, business owners may like what happens next even less. While the jury is still out on the effect of this latest lapse in enhanced unemployment benefits, which clocked in at $300 a week, above what states pay out, history shows that there is a tradeoff.

When unemployment benefits are cut, in general, there is a slight increase in people looking for work, says Ben Zipperer, in economist for the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington D.C.-based think tank, but that number tends to be small. The largest result by far, he says, has been a massive decrease in spending among those who’ve lost benefits, which also cuts into a company’s bottom line, making it potentially harder to justify bringing on new hires.

It may also cut into the funds businesses can pay for certain positions, which doesn’t inspire people to get back into the workforce, especially during a pandemic when people more aware of the costs of working at a particular job relative to all the other things that matter in their lives.

“Many low-wage employers are having trouble finding workers to work at [modest] because those jobs are much more dangerous now, and the working conditions are much worse than before the pandemic,” says Zipperer.

In April of last year, the government kicked off its federal assistance program for unemployed Americans, providing as many as 7.5 million access to an extra $600 per week, an amount that was later reduced to $300 per week under the Biden Administration. Unemployment benefits were also offered to contract workers and the self-employed, who under normal circumstances do not qualify for assistance. Payments were extended beyond the traditional 26 weeks offered by most states.

While there are currently no immediate plans in Congress to reauthorize this relief, typical state unemployment benefits will continue, thanks in part to the $350 billion in federal assistance provided to the states under the American Rescue Plan. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the federal government has delivered more than $800 billion in unemployment benefits.

If you’re looking for workers, Tom Sullivan, vice president of small business policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recommends staying local before all else, and putting the word out as much as possible that you’re hiring. For instance, he notes that a restaurant owner he’s been in contact with found employees by telling customers about job openings directly.

“I think from a small business perspective, all hiring is local, and to that extent, I see remarkable leadership by small businesses trying to capitalize on one of their biggest strengths, and that is their local reputation,” says Sullivan.

By Brit Morse, Assistant editor, Inc.@britnmorse

Source: What the End of Pandemic Unemployment Benefits Means for Your Hiring Plans | Inc.com

.

Related Contents:

Number of days of entitlement to payment per month – Period of entitlement

Definition of Dole

The Effects of Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Energy Supplement – Payment rates on a pension or an allowance

Prime Minister argues $25 per week increase to JobSeeker is ‘appropriate

A Look Back and A Way Forward: Actuarial Views on the Future of the Employment Insurance System

Restoring Financial Governance and Accessibility in the Employment Insurance Program

Text of judgment rendered by the Supreme Court of Canada on Employment Insurance surpluses

Which are the best countries in the world to live in if you are unemployed or disabled

Greeks go back to basics as recession bites

Unemployment benefits in Iceland

European Union web site: your rights in the European Union for transferring unemployment benefits

Work and Income Unemployment Benefit Rates

House bill seeks to triple unemployment benefits from SSS

Unemployment benefit assessment during coronavirus pandemic

How do savings and lump sum pay-outs affect benefits

Not all unemployed people get unemployment benefits; in some states, very few do

The Automatic Fiscal Stabilizers: Quietly Doing Their Thing

Why do Unemployment Benefits Raise Unemployment Durations

The Blind Spot in Romney’s Economic Plan

Does Extending Unemployment Benefits Improve Job Quality

Unemployment Funds in Switzerland

 

To Combat Billions In Unemployment Benefit Fraud, Startup SentiLink Raises $70 Million

At least in improper payments, much of it fraud, have been distributed by the Federal government since the pandemic struck in March 2020. In California alone, state officials admitted that as much as of unemployment benefits payments may have been fraudulent.

“Unemployment insurance fraud is probably the biggest fraud issue hitting banks today,” says Naftali Harris, co-founder and CEO at San Francisco’s SentiLink, which just closed a $70 million round of venture capital to expand its business of helping financial institutions detect fake and stolen identities for new account applications.

, a San Francisco-based venture firm, led the Series B round which brings SentiLink’s total capital raised to date to $85 million. Felicis, Andreessen Horowitz and NYCA also joined SentiLink’s latest capital infusion.

SentiLink plans to use the capital raised to continue to help institutions with this recent increase in fraud instances spurred by the CARES Act. They also plan to expand their fraud toolkit to prevent other types of scams, such as and, and investigate new ones.

Harris’ team has seen a huge uptick in fraud rates affecting their clients, as high as 90% among new applications, associated with the CARES Act COVID relief. Fraudsters have been using the same name, social security number or date of birth in several applications, filing in high volumes in several states.

According to Harris, his team is currently verifying around a million account openings per day, and is working with more than 100 financial institutions – due to a non-disclosure agreement Harris could not comment on which financial institutions his company serves.

The company says that beyond simply using artificial intelligence to detect fraud, they have a risk operations team that catches in real time cases of synthetic fraud – a form of identity theft in which the defrauder combines a stolen Social Security Number (SSN) and fake information to create a false identity – that would normally go unnoticed by their clients.

Harris discovered this type of fraud when he was working as a data scientist at Affirm in 2017. At the time, synthetic fraud was relatively unknown, so when he saw that crooks were creating brand new identities instead of stealing  existing ones to apply for credit, he founded SentiLink to focus on tackling this new scam. “We realized this was a really big issue and that nobody in the financial services industry was talking about it,” says Harris.

Now, criminals are creating new identities or stealing existing ones to tap into unemployment benefits. Harris says the problem is not only them stealing from the government, but uncovering the tactics they use to deposit the stolen funds.

“What a lot of people don’t realize is that as a fraudster you have to be able to use the money stolen, and put it into the financial system,” Harris says.

To Harris, the biggest differentiation in SentiLink’s approach is how much it emphasizes “deep understanding of fraud and identity in our models.”

“We have a team of fraud investigators that manually review applications every day looking for fraud, and we use their insights and discoveries in our fraud models and technology,” he told TechCrunch. “This deep understanding is so important to us that every Friday the entire company spends an hour reviewing fraud cases.”

SentiLink, Harris added, focuses on “deeply” understanding fraud and identity, and then using technology to productionalize these insights.  Those discoveries include the deterioration of phone/name match data and uncovering “same name” fraud. “This deep understanding is so important that SentiLink employs a team of risk analysts whose full time job is to investigate new kinds of fraud and discover what the fraudsters are doing,” the company says.

SentiLink, like so many other startups, saw an increase in business during the COVID-19 pandemic. “The various government assistance programs were rife with fraud. This had a cascading effect throughout financial services, where fraudsters that had successfully stolen government money attempted to launder it into the financial system,” Harris said. “As a result we’ve been very busy, particularly with checking and savings accounts that until now have had relatively little fraud.”

genesis-3-1

The startup plans to use its new capital to build out its product suite and do some hiring. Today it has 25 employees, with five accepted offers, and expects to end the year with a headcount of 45-50.

Follow me on  or . Send me a secure .

I’m an assistant editor at Forbes covering money and markets. Before joining Forbes, I worked at NextEra Energy, Inc. developing and implementing successful media relations and public relations campaigns in the energy industry.

I graduated from Stetson University with a degree in Finance, and have a master’s degree in Journalism and International Relations from New York University, where I worked as a staff writer for Latin America News Dispatch and New York Magazine’s Bedford + Bowery.

Source: To Combat Billions In Unemployment Benefit Fraud, Startup SentiLink Raises $70 Million

.

Related Contents:

Amazon’s top Indian seller Cloudtail to cease operations after May 2022

Facebook adds Photobucket and Google Calendar to its data portability options

Canopy raises $15M Series A after posting 4.5x customer growth in H1 2021

CommandBar raises $4.8M to make web-based apps searchable

Wheel the World raises $2M to provide unlimited experiences for travelers with limited accessibility

Wannabe ‘social bank’ Kroo swerves VCs to raise a $24.5M Series A from HNWs

LawVu, a cloud-based platform for in-house legal teams, raises $17M NZD from Insight Partners

Siga secures $8.1M Series B to prevent cyberattacks on critical infrastructure

Moove raises $23M to create flexible options for drivers to own cars in Africa

India’s UpGrad enters unicorn club with $185 million fundraise

Two months after its Series A, Pintu gets $35M in new funding led by Lightspeed

How to claim a student discount for Extra Crunch

Pixels, Palm readers and Pokémon problems

Digital transformation depends on diversity

This Week in Apps: In-app events hit the App Store, TikTok tries Stories, Apple reveals new child safety plan

Building vulnerability into your workflow

China roundup: Games are opium, algorithms need scrutiny

Cities can have flying cars if they start working on infrastructure today

Apple Car Team Held ‘Advanced’ Meetings with South Korea’s SK Group and LG Electronics

Get Lifetime Windows 10 License For Only $12, Microsoft Office For $26, And Much More

Canopy raises $15M Series A after posting 4.5x customer growth in H1 2021 – TechCrunch

Rule The Outdoors With This TOURIT Cooler Backpack For Just $29.59 [You Save $16.40]

LawVu, a cloud-based platform for in-house legal teams, raises $17M NZD from Insight Partners – TechCrunch

The IRS Bottleneck Most Taxpayers Have Never Heard Of

The one-day deadline for taxpayers to approve authorization requests only applies to authorizations for multiple representatives. All representatives must be approved on the same day or later approvals will overwrite prior approvals. Currently there is no deadline for taxpayers to approve authorization requests.

Bottlenecks are nothing new to the Internal Revenue Service. IRS issues with mail processing, return processing, and issuing refunds have been well publicized. Nevertheless, one of the most common IRS bottlenecks is one that many taxpayers, including many members of Congress, are unaware of.

IRS notices about return adjustments, balances due, delays in refund processing, and a host of other issues continued to be sent automatically during the Covid-19 pandemic and continue to be issued after what most tax practitioners agree was the worst income tax filing season ever (even worse than filing season 2020).

Taxpayers who choose to pay a professional to assist with an IRS notice must provide proper authorization, typically using either Form 2848, Power of Attorney, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. The representative then files the signed 2848 or 8821 with the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) unit either by mailing it, faxing it, or (more recently) via online submission. Once CAF approval has been granted, the tax practitioner can then represent the taxpayer, but getting CAF approval has become an increasingly fraught process.

The Internal Revenue Manual (or IRM) specifies that “receipts” [of authorization requests] are processed within five business days. Nevertheless, over the last few years processing times of three to six weeks or even longer have become increasingly common. This January tax practitioners were given the ability to submit authorizations online. Online submission was greeted with enthusiasm because it also allowed for the use of electronic (as opposed to “wet”) signatures.

Online submission definitely made the process of getting a client’s signature and submitting the authorization form to the CAF unit much simpler, but because online submissions are processed in order along with mailed or faxed in submissions, uploading authorization forms has not been an expedient option for taxpayers needing immediate assistance.

Typically practitioners representing taxpayers with short deadlines call the Practitioner Priority Line (PPL) and fax the form to the answering representative. Because all faxed forms require a “wet” signature the electronic signature and online submission process has proved less than helpful except for non-urgent matters.

The IRS CAF units in Memphis and Ogden were completely shut down in March 2020 in response to the pandemic (as was a third unit that serves taxpayers located outside of the U.S.). Consequently, authorization processing (which was already slow) was brought to a standstill—and then it went into reverse. Although all three CAF units re-opened in July 2020, and although the IRS has added additional staff to help clear the backlog, the CAF units are still taking several weeks to process mailed or faxed submissions.

While there have been anecdotal reports of uploaded forms being processed in two weeks (as opposed to the six or more it sometimes takes for a mailed or faxed-in authorization), the IRS continues to state that the CAF units process all mailed, faxed, and uploaded forms on a first-in, first out basis.

John Sheeley, Enrolled Agent and owner of Tax Practice Pro, Inc. (which provides continuing education to tax practitioners), has recommended that the IRS stop issuing automatic notices and re-direct any available staff to the CAF units to assist with processing backlogged authorization requests (and then move those staff on to processing notice responses that have also been languishing, sometimes since mid-2020).

Additional improvements to the traditional CAF authorization process that have been recommended by many practitioners include notifying the practitioner via their e-Services account when an authorization form has been accepted for processing (similar to the acknowledgement received for electronically filed tax returns and that includes the date of acknowledgment and the taxpayer’s identification number) and again when the authorization has been processed.

These two additional notifications would allow tax practitioners to quickly determine if their authorization request got to the CAF unit and if it was approved. Currently practitioners must log into their e-services accounts and manually check to see if an authorization form has been processed (again, with no way of knowing if it was even received).

Tax practitioners would also like notification if the authorization request form is rejected and why so that any errors can be corrected. Currently forms submitted by mail, fax, or upload go into a black hole that requires practitioners to continue to check to see if the form has been accepted.

It is never clear whether a long delay is an actual delay in processing, if the form was lost, or if it was rejected. This is inefficient both for practitioners and the IRS. Practitioners who can’t wait for the authorizations to be accepted are often forced to call an already overburdened PPL only to be told the form was rejected and will have to be corrected and resubmitted.

On July 18, 2021 the IRS opened a practitioner portal that is supposed to make filing and obtaining authorizations easier. The new submission and approval system promises to greatly improve efficiency for practitioners whose clients have or can get an IRS online account. Tax practitioners can log into a special Tax Pro account to submit authorization requests for their clients who can then approve the request.

In general, the requests record in real-time to the CAF database. The practitioner is alerted to many issues (e.g., a CAF number mismatch) before the authorization is submitted. Once the request has been approved by the client, authorization approval should be displayed in the practitioner’s Tax Pro account within two business days. Marc Dombrowski, Enrolled Agent Owner of Tax Help Associates, a Buffalo, New York, firm that specializes in resolving tax issues had his first two submissions record in real time and the third in approximately 30 hours. That’s a huge improvement over the several weeks which had become the norm since at least 2020.

Of course, there is some fine print. Authorizations requested using the new portal are limited in scope (most notably they can only be used for individual accounts, not businesses and they can only authorize access back to tax year 2000). Additionally, while the practitioner is notified that an online request has not been approved, the unapproved request is not identified in any way (for example using the taxpayer’s name or TIN). While this may be a necessary security precaution it does pose problems for tax resolution specialists who often submit multiple authorization requests each day.

Processing the older authorization backlog may be even more important with the new portal now online. The IRS has always stressed to practitioners not to submit multiple copies of the same authorizations as it will delay CAF processing. Tax practitioners tend to be a methodical bunch and most will typically check to determine if a client authorization has been granted before attempting to upload an authorization using the new portal.

It would be extremely helpful (and would help to avoid duplicate submissions) if the information provided to practitioners reflects up-to-date CAF information. Dombrowski states that when it comes to the CAF process, “It’s simplicity is its perfection.” New submissions will reliably always overwrite older submissions. That means that the limited scope authorization requests submitted online using the new Tax Pro accounts will replace any full-scope authorizations (2848 or 8821) the IRS currently has on file, so practitioners should be mindful when using the portal for requests on existing clients.

Of course new submissions overwriting older submissions also means that full-scope authorizations submitted by mail, fax, or upload will overwrite limited scope authorizations if the full-scope authorizations are processed after an authorization submitted using the portal. Morris Armstrong, an Enrolled Agent who owns an independent tax practice in Cheshire, Connecticut, says “it is likely safer to request the 8821 [which allows a practitioner to obtain information but not to negotiate] and preserve the 2848, barring urgency to negotiate.”

Finally, client approval of an online authorization request must also be provided the same day as the request is made by the practitioner and, depending on the client, that is not always possible. Truthfully, many practitioners can resolve their clients’ issues if the client has an IRS online account and is willing to request the necessary transcripts and provide them to their practitioner.

Nevertheless, while a transcript review may resolve some problems, often further intervention by the tax practitioner is required. Still, anything that speeds up CAF approval and provides simpler options for obtaining taxpayer transcripts has the potential to greatly reduce IRS phone traffic. And anything that reduces IRS phone traffic will be enthusiastically welcomed by taxpayers, tax practitioners, and the IRS.

I own Tax Therapy, LLC, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am an Enrolled Agent and non-attorney practitioner admitted to the bar of the U.S. Tax Court. I work as a tax general practitioner preparing returns for individuals and (really) small businesses as well as representing individuals before the IRS and, occasionally, the U.S. Tax Court. My passion is translating “taxspeak” into English for taxpayers and tax practitioners. I write to dispel myths with facts and to explain “the fine print” behind seemingly simple tax concepts. I cover individual tax issues and IRS developments with a focus on items of interest to taxpayers and retail tax practitioners. Follow me on Twitter @taxtherapist505

Source: The IRS Bottleneck Most Taxpayers Have Never Heard Of

.

Related Contents:

Infrastructure deal: Senate suddenly acts to take up bill

Tax Filing Status – Braj Aggarwal CPA PC

Amended Return Frequently Asked Questions | Internal Revenue Service

WAITING FOR A REFUND? CHECK YOUR REFUND STATUS ONLINE

Another 1.5 million unemployment refunds this week: Tax transcripts, IRS schedule and more – CNET

Crypto tax: US Senators propose plans to raise billions in revenue

Tax Credits Under the American Rescue Plan – Benefits Plus Online

IRS® Instrument Removal System from San Diego Swiss

Tax News & Views Infrastructure Lipstick Roundup

Crypto firms will report transactions over $10,000 to the IRS under proposed tax push to help fund the US infrastructure plan

Twitter proclaims closure of NYC and San Francisco workplaces after new CDC steering on Delta

AM Best Affirms Credit Ratings of American Equity Investment Life Insurance Company and Its Subsidiaries

The IRS is sending out 1.5 million surprise refunds averaging $1,600 – here’s who gets one

Grinnell College Innovator for Social Justice Prize 2022 (up to $50,000)

IRS issues more refunds for overpaid taxes on unemployment benefits

The Irish Times reported that a Dublin-based subsidiary of Microsoft

Is Your Nonprofit Ready for Foundation Grants?

How Variable Annuities Can Help You Save for Retirement Early | Northwestern Mutual

Another 1.5 million unemployment refunds this week: Tax transcripts, IRS schedule and more
%d bloggers like this: