Facebook’s WhatsApp Takes Aim At Apple Over Child Safety Software Plan

Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging unit blasted Apple’s plan to monitor sexually exploitative images of children on iPhones as bad for privacy, opening a new front in the battle between two of the world’s biggest tech companies. From a report: “This approach introduces something very concerning into the world,” Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, said Friday. “We will not adopt it at WhatsApp.” Apple a day earlier said it planned to release an update for U.S. users later this year designed to identify and report collections of sexually exploitative images of children, as part of a series of changes it is preparing for the iPhone to protect children from sexual predators.

WhatsApp’s position deepens the battle between Facebook and Apple about data. Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has long bemoaned what he sees as too much power Apple has over the social-media giant’s business. Apple has made the protection of user information on the iPhones and some other devices a key part of its pitch to consumers and taken shots at Facebook for its data-collection practices. Tensions have intensified in recent months as Apple rolled out a new privacy feature for the iPhone that restricts Facebook’s ability to collect data. Mr. Zuckerberg said Apple was using its platform to interfere with how Facebook apps work. At the heart of the latest dispute is the question of whether tech companies can insert software that identifies inappropriate or illegal content without compromising privacy. Apple claims to have found a way to do this. WhatsApp, and Apple’s critics, liken this software to a surveillance system.