2 min read

According to Reuters, Callas “left for a much lower-paying job at the American Civil Liberties Union this week, the latest sign of increasing activity on policy issues by Silicon Valley privacy specialists and other engineers.”

Tarah M. Wheeler, Senior Director, Data Trust & Threat and Vulnerability Management at Splunk, tweeted that the person Apple hired to stop government overreach into iPhones, Jon Callas, has moved to ACLU, who should feel lucky to have hired him.

Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project, said, “Jon has unparalleled knowledge about the hazards of surveillance backdoors and is also an extremely effective communicator to the public, which is equally important”. Thus, at ACLU, he is expected to provide input on fairness and transparency in AI. He is also expected to fight governments that demand access to tech platforms for surveillance.

Wizner further added, “It’s critical for organizations like the ACLU to address the asymmetry of expertise between entities like the National Security Agency and Silicon Valley corporations and those of us who are trying to rein them in.”

Why Callas joined ACLU?

Callas’ resignation as an Apple security expert comes closely on the heels of the “unprecedented activism by rank and file engineers at Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook Inc and other technology powerhouses under fire for enabling the spread of misinformation and government-led misdeeds”, Reuters said.

“Callas said that he felt a particular kinship with Google employees pressing to have more of a say in the company’s prospective deal to return to mainland China with a censored search engine”. He also added that phone makers had improved security and he wanted to see progress continue and widen without companies succumbing to pressure to install backdoors.

Callas wants technology in fields such as law enforcement to evolve as many who work in public services complain that the devices they are using are simply too slow.

Bruce Schneier, a cryptography author encouraged Callas to take up the post at ACLU, Reuters reported.

Schneier said he was seeing a broader sense of public obligation, with a hundred applicants for a recent opening at the nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation. But he said there need to be more ways to contribute to the public welfare and that technology still lags fields like law, where charity work is expected.

To know more about this news in detail, head over to Reuters.

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