In this world of snooping and snitching, truly private conversations are increasingly endangered. Apple devices once provided a refuge from all kinds of corporate and governmental prying, and the iconic Silicon Valley company had been studying how to block even itself from its users’ private communications by expanding end-to-end encryption – from the device to the cloud and back again – that ensures only the users can have access to their own information.

But Apple is now taking a deeply disappointing step in the opposite direction with its plan to scan photos collected on U.S. iPhones and iPads in a puzzling search for child pornography.