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Apple to scan iPhones for child abuse images

Apple to scan iPhones for child abuse images, but experts worry

Apple is introducing new child safety features, including new technology in iOS and iPadOS that will detect known Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) images stored in iCloud Photos.

The tool designed to detect known images of child sexual abuse is called “neuralMatch” and will scan images before they are uploaded to iCloud. If it finds a match, the image will be reviewed by a human. If child pornography is confirmed, the user’s account will be disabled and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) notified.

Apple will also scan users’ encrypted messages for sexually explicit content as a child safety measure. The detection system will only flag images that are already in the center’s database of known child pornography.

However there are privacy concerns that the system could be misused and the technology could be expanded to scan smartphones for prohibited content or even political speech. Some experts even worry that the technology could be used by authoritarian governments to spy on citizens.

Matthew Green, a cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins University, warned that the system could be used to frame innocent people by sending them seemingly innocuous images designed to trigger matches for child pornography, the Associated Press reports. That could fool Apple’s algorithm and alert law enforcement.

Apple also announced that it will launch new communication tools “that will enable parents to play a more informed role in helping their children navigate communication online”. The Messages app will use on-device machine learning to warn about sensitive content, while keeping private communications unreadable by Apple.

Child safety - Apple

Additionally, it is expanding guidance in Siri and Search by providing more resources to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations.


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