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Left-Wing Group Linked To Dark Money Network Wants To Scan Americans’ iPhone Photos

A left-wing nonprofit linked to a powerful Democrat-aligned dark money network is behind the Heat Initiative, a renewed campaign to get Apple to scan every photo stored on devices it makes, according to The Intercept.

The Heat Initiative, which The Intercept reports is a project of the Hopewell Fund, is pushing Apple to monitor media as it is being uploaded to iCloud to check if it contains child sexual abuse material. The Hopewell Fund is managed by Arabella Advisors and has launched campaigns to, among other things, fund private abortion clinics and criticize Donald Trump for his stances on health care, according to Influence Watch.

Civil rights advocates, computer scientists and data security experts have raised concerns about the implications Apple’s scrapped scanning plan would have for individual privacy, according to The Intercept.

“There are huge implications for national security as well as consumer privacy against corporations,” said Matthew Green, a computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University. “Plenty of unsavory reasons for people to push this technology that have nothing to do with protecting children.”

Apple first suggested scanning people’s files in 2021, but ultimately abandoned the proposal due to pushback from civil liberties groups, The Intercept reported. The ACLU said at the time it was “concerned that governments will exploit these changes to conduct far-reaching surveillance, and that the new system could normalize government spying on our personal phones and computers, leaving no remaining places where digital privacy is still possible,” according to the organization’s website.

The Heat Initiative told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it is Apple’s “responsibility to design a safe, privacy-forward environment that allows for the detection of known child sexual abuse images and videos” and that its demands match “those who work closely with children who are victimized in this way who are signaling that Apple is not doing enough.” The organization did not answer questions about its ties to the Hopewell Fund.

Donors to the Hopewell Fund are largely anonymous, according to Influence Watch, and the Heat Initiative refused to disclose its donors to The Intercept. “I’m uncomfortable with anonymous rich people with unknown agendas pushing these massive invasions of our privacy,” Green told The Intercept.

The tie between the Hopewell Fund and the Heat Initiative can be found in the terms of use of the latter’s website. “THIS WEBSITE IS OWNED AND OPERATED BY Hopewell Fund AND ITS AFFILIATES,” the page reads. It is common for members of liberal dark money groups in the Arabella network to sponsor activist organizations, allowing them to inherit nonprofit tax benefits without independently registering as nonprofits, according to Influence Watch.

Arabella Advisors is a for-profit venture that manages a network of left-wing nonprofits. Nonprofits managed by Arabella have launched hundreds of liberal advocacy campaigns, concealing the source of their funding in the process, accordingto Influence Watch.

The Hopewell Fund did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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