🔗 Apple’s privacy puzzle


August 11, 2021

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The Hustle

Be safe out there, Gen Z: According to the FBI, reported cyberfraud cases among those under 20 shot up 156% between 2017 and 2020 — the largest increase of any demographic. The 60+ crowd is still the most vulnerable, though, with $966m in losses last year alone.

Today’s rundown:

  • Privacy pickle: Why folks are upset that Apple is protecting children.
  • Slumlords beware: RentCheck is helping tenants recover their security deposits.
  • One odd dude: Elon Musk’s 375-square-foot house.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Apple logo with eyeballs

Apple’s conundrum: Protect children and maintain privacy

There are 1B+ iPhone users in the world.

Unfortunately, a percentage of those users traffic in child pornography (AKA CSAM, or child sexual abuse material).

Last week, Apple made a big move to stop the spread of CSAM.

Apple will scan user iPhones…

… for illicit photos, as reported by Daring Fireball’s John Gruber. Here is a simplified breakdown of the steps:

  1. Apple has a database of CSAM from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
  2. Apple compares this database to encrypted photos uploaded to iCloud
  3. If the minimum threshold of potential CSAM photos is not matched, Apple won’t decrypt the photos and there is no further action
  4. If a minimum threshold of potential CSAM photos are matched, the account is flagged
  5. At this point, a human will inspect the decrypted photos (e.g., it could be parents uploading lots of photos of their newborn)

Here is the conundrum

While combating CSAM is the noblest of goals, not everyone agrees with Apple’s unilateral approach.

Will Cathcart — the head of Facebook’s WhatsApp, which reported 400k+ CSAM cases last year — says Apple built a “surveillance system that could very easily be used to scan private content for anything they or a government decides it wants to control.”

For example: China could ask Apple to flag all users that have photos of Tiananmen Square.

Apple holds itself as the paragon of privacy

Tim Cook has even said privacy is a “human right.”

Can it maintain this promise with the new CSAM initiative? To further clarify its position, Apple put out a 6-page FAQ on Monday (in it, Apple says it will “refuse government demands” to track non-CSAM images).

With the seriousness of this matter — from all angles — expect many more updates.

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SNIPPETS

A mathematician left academia at 40 to build the world’s most successful hedge fund. Here’s the story. #hustle-picks

Facebook gets flexible: The firm launched integrations with Photobucket and Google Calendar that allow users to move data from the social network. #big-tech

Beyond the meme-stocks: Robinhood is acquiring Say Technologies, a company that manages shareholder communication, for $140m. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Dark kitchens, everywhere: Travis Kalanick is expanding his dark kitchen empire to Europe. #ecommerce-retail

Google’s privacy push: The firm is launching a new series of protections for minors, including restricting ad targeting. #privacy

Investigating text memes: Gen Z is taking over Instagram with text-heavy posts over photos that have little relevance to the text. #emerging-tech

Rent Tech
graffiti

The company that wants to make sure you get your security deposit back

There’s an estimated $45B sitting around in security deposits, but getting them back can be complicated.

Enter RentCheck, the New Orleans-based startup that streamlines property inspections and just scored $2.6m in seed money, per TechCrunch.

RentCheck facilitates remote move-out inspections in-app…

… a feature that led to 1000% growth in RentCheck’s property stock over the course of the pandemic.

Here’s how it works:

  • Property management companies pay a subscription fee, starting at $5/mo. for 1-20 units
  • Tenants or employees use the app to complete guided inspections
  • Photos are time-stamped and stored in-app
  • When finished, both parties sign off

Why it’s useful

A survey from rental app Roost found that over half of renters didn’t take move-in pics and weren’t sure about refund terms.

One property manager told Roost that ~40% of renters end up challenging their refunds.

An app like RentCheck creates transparency on both ends in a quick, automated way.

See also: Other companies, like startup Rhino, are offering security deposit “insurance” where renters pay a small monthly fee instead of a big deposit.

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Well that’s interesting
Boxabl home

Elon Musk’s $50k, 375-square-foot home

There are probably very few people on Earth who would willingly live in a 375-square-foot prefab home if they had a net worth of ~$185B (and only paid a 3.27% true tax rate).

Elon Musk is one of them.

The tech titan has reportedly been residing in a cozy foldable home on the SpaceX premises in Boca Chica, Texas.

The home is built by Boxabl and goes for $49.5k

Though the home’s resident was not officially confirmed as Musk, Las Vegas-based Boxabl said it installed one of its Casita homes for a “top secret customer” last November.

Then, in June, Musk tweeted that his primary home is a “kinda awesome” ~$50k house that he rents from SpaceX in Boca Chica.

The company is gaining steam

Boxabl has a 47k-person waitlist for its tiny home that takes just hours to set up and is light enough to be towed by a Tesla.

In June, Boxabl moved into a new 170k-square-foot factory that’ll eventually have the production capacity to output 3.6k Casitas a year (it’s only built 3 so far).

Aside from consumer housing, Boxabl envisions its Casitas being used as mobile hospitals, shelters, and schools.

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Watch Now

How much do you value your data?

Sam and Shaan imagine life with no private information…

… and discuss the artist who got his house flipped by the Secret Service to make his point.

Pod #201 hot topics: Ikea hacking, an influencer’s $400m fitness app, and an overlooked open-source WordPress-meets-Substack competitor.

At the end, Sam also shares why he went 5x over budget for his spouse’s wedding ring — and why you should, too.

Watch on YouTube →
AROUND THE WEB

😮 Wild story: It’s rare, but Waipuhia Falls in Oahu, Hawaii, becomes an upside-down waterfall when the winds are right. Here’s a video of this trippy phenomenon.

🎶 Haha: Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” has hit 1B+ views on YouTube thanks to the incredible staying power of ”Rickrolling.”

🎹 Cool site: This website matches music to whatever you type. Write a message, replay it, and share it with others.

📷 Wow: In “Faces of Century,” photographer Jan Langer captures portraits of 100-year-olds in the same style as photos from their youth.

🎤 How to: You’ve heard of SEO, but how do you optimize your website for those who use voice search? Forbes has 11 expert tips.

On this day: In 1929, Babe Ruth hit his 500th home run against the Cleveland Indians, who still won 6-5 against the Yankees that day.

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Meme of the day
Hard Mtn Dew cans

Source: Boston Beer Company

OK, this actually isn’t a meme. But it might as well be.

Yesterday, PepsiCo and Boston Beer Company announced the release of Hard Mtn Dew, an alcoholic version of… Mountain Dew. Just wow.

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