Apple has postponed child protection features announced last month, including a controversial feature that would scan users’ photos for CSAM, after heavy criticism that the changes could reduce user privacy.
The changes were due to be implemented later this year. The company said in statment: Last month, we announced plans for features designed to help protect children from predators using communication tools to exploit them and reduce the spread of child sexual abuse material.
“Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we’ve decided to devote additional time over the coming months to gather input and make improvements before launching these critical child safety features.”
This release details three major changes in the business. One change about search and Siri might point to resources to block CSAM if the user searches for information about them.
The other two changes have come under further scrutiny. One of the changes could alert parents when their children receive or send sexually explicit images while blurring those images of children.
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Apple delays controversial child protection features
Another change would have scanned images stored in a user’s iCloud photos for CSAM materials and reported to company administrators, who could then forward the reports to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, or NCMEC.
The company explained the iCloud photo scanning system in detail to prove that it did not compromise user privacy. In short, the system scans the photos stored in iCloud Photos via the iOS device. It evaluates these images along with a database of known CSAM image segmentation from NCMEC and other child safety organizations.
However, many privacy experts have strongly criticized the company over the new system. This is on the pretext that it is possible to provide a monitoring system within the device. And it violates the trust users have placed in the company to protect privacy across the device.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a statement on August 5 that the new system breaks key promises of the messaging program’s own encryption and opens the door to broader breaches.
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