Apple To Start Scanning People’s Messages And Photos For Signs Of Child Abuse
Apple has unveiled its plans for protecting children from abusive or sexually inappropriate messaging, launching a new feature that will allow devices to scan messages and images for signs of abuse.
In an update, Apple’s OS platforms will gain three new functions designed to monitor and send alerts if children are being targeted by sexually explicit content.
The first of the features will scan children’s messages for photos that look as if they may be sexually explicit, allowing devices to blur content that is flagged. If a child receives such a message, Apple says they’ll be given the option to block the contact that sent them the message, with a parent or adult notified if the child chooses to view or tries to send an explicit image.
Also set to be introduced is a feature that will allow devices to actively scan image galleries for ‘Child Sexual Abuse Material’, and will compare images on users’ iCloud galleries with a database of child abuse images provided by safeguarding organisations. If an image is flagged, Apple will then manually review the content and flag it to the authorities if it is deemed abusive.
The final feature will introduce updates to Siri providing adults and children with information and resources about dealing with possible abuse.
Apple says all of these updates have been designed ‘with user privacy in mind’, however while well intentioned, the features are already proving controversial, with one expert describing them as ‘mass surveillance tools’.
Cryptography Professor Matthew Green warned that the technology was ripe for abuse, The Independent reports, as he tweeted, ‘The theory is that you will trust Apple to only include really bad images…you’d better trust them, because trust is all you have.’
Apple says the update will be rolled out ‘later this year,’ and is set to be initially limited to users in the United States.
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