Former computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden has issued a warning about Apple's plan to launch an image scanning tech, saying it would ultimately be used to spy on owners and compromise citizen's private data.

Apple earlier announced that it would scan all photos linked from iPhones to iCloud for child pornography. Snowden said corrupt politicians will ultimately abuse the plan to destroy individual privacy, Daily Mail reported.

The National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower noted that Apple had chosen a "dangerous path" with the scheme to access users' photos. Snowden added that governments would try to have greater access to data.

He also warned that Apple's image scan initial opt-out would inevitably be axed if its plans go ahead, with people's phones would ultimately be the property of governments and firms and used to spy on their owners.

Edward Snowden also said that Apple would lose all control over how that precedent is applied, Apple Insider reported. The former intelligence consultant noted that there's a technological limit to how far Apple can bend its policy.

Snowden added that the flexibility of Apple's company policy is very understandable to governments.

Meanwhile, Apple argued that it would not bend to government demands to expand the system beyond its original directive.

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Apple's Image Scanning Tech

Apple's earlier announcement has prompted scrutiny from critics and advocates, saying it could be a "backdoor" to spy on people. According to BBC, more than 5,000 people and organizations have signed an open letter against the technology.

Digital privacy advocates warned that governments could use the technology to ramp up anti-LGBT regimes or crackdown on political dissidents in countries where protests are deemed illegal.

Apple answered the concerns by saying that they have faced demands with building and deploying government-mandated changes and have steadfastly refused the requests that degrade users' privacy.

The tech mogul noted that they would continue to refuse them in the future.

Apple said the image scan tool would not allow the company to see or scan a user's photo album. Privacy advocates noted that the only thing preventing that technology from being used against users is Apple's promise that it will not be.

NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden became known for leaking classified information showing the extent of the U.S. government spying on its own citizens in 2013.

Snowden also enlisted in the army in May 2004, when he applied as a special forces candidate. However, he was discharged four months later.

He was then hired by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as an IT expert in 2006 and was given a top-secret clearance, according to Britannica.

Snowden has been assigned to Geneva in 2007 and worked as a network security technician. He had a diplomatic cover during his Geneva stint.

He then left the CIA for the NSA in 2009 and worked as a private contractor for companies such as Dell and Booz Allen Hamilton.

Edward Snowden requested a medical leave of absence in May 2013 and flew to Hong Kong, where he conducted a series of interviews with journalists from The Guardian regarding the classified information on American intelligence and mass surveillance program.

The NSA whistleblower was then accused of espionage and theft of U.S. government property for leaking the troves of information. After he left Hong Kong, Snowden went to Moscow, Russia.   

The Russian government granted him asylum and extended his residency permit in 2017 until 2020. Snowden earlier said that he would be willing to return to the U.S. if he is guaranteed a fair trial.

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Written by: Mary Webber

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