Apple delays plans to scan devices for child exploitation material

Daniel Sims

Posts: 526   +20
Staff
What just happened? Apple has announced that it will delay, but not cancel, its plans to implement a system to scan iPhones and iCloud accounts for child sexual abuse material (CSAM). After Apple announced the feature last month, it sparked worry from privacy advocates as well as intense debate over whether it could expand beyond scanning for CSAM.

Apple released a statement to news organizations including Ars Technica, confirming the delay. "Last month we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them, and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material [CSAM]," the statement reads.

"Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features."

Apple hasn't revealed any more details on its plans, such as how long the delay is for or what changes it will make to the scanning feature.

Early in August, Apple revealed it would start scanning iPhones and iCloud accounts when it releases iOS 15 this fall. A database of hashes of known CSAM images from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) would be stored on every device running one of Apple's operating systems. An AI would compare the hash of every image uploaded to iCloud against that database. If an image is flagged, Apple would put it up for human review and then determine if it needs to be sent to the NCMEC.

Many are concerned that governments could pressure Apple to scan images for more than just CSAM. Apple has already said it would reject such demands. At least one researcher posits a hypothetical situation in which the US government could sidestep Apple, and pressure the NCMEC to change the database that's stored on devices.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) believes that no matter how tight a backdoor this may be, it's still a backdoor. Apple has made this same argument when refusing to unlock suspects' iPhones for law enforcement. There are also concerns that scanning people's phones violates the Fourth Amendment.

Apple's own employees have apparently hotly debated the issue. Some say it damages the reputation Apple has tried to build for prioritizing user privacy. Others think this new system may be a step towards implementing end-to-end encryption on iCloud.

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Dimitriid

Posts: 2,216   +4,268
The bad news is that by "delay" they probably mean "Not tell anyone about it" given how well, it's already been scanning all stuff, would it really be surprising this change was not out of the backlash but out of a secret warrant with a gag order they're not allowed to disclose and nobody can really know about?
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,067   +749
Apple, the right move is to CANCEL those plans! THAT is the correct answer. Those plans are slimy, contemptible and have no place in a civilized society.
 

m4a4

Posts: 2,946   +3,807
TechSpot Elite
The bad news is that by "delay" they probably mean "Not tell anyone about it" given how well, it's already been scanning all stuff, would it really be surprising this change was not out of the backlash but out of a secret warrant with a gag order they're not allowed to disclose and nobody can really know about?
Apple, the right move is to CANCEL those plans! THAT is the correct answer. Those plans are slimy, contemptible and have no place in a civilized society.
They'll probably wait until they can implement it with far less public outrage. I don't see Apple cancelling these plans because they know what's best for their users, or so they say......
 

Vanderlinde

Posts: 148   +102
Apple was always strong in relation of privacy. But they actually are attempting to start scanning a billion of devices all over the planet over some list. Your phone is locally scanning and verifying hashes sort of say.

Thats
The bad news is that by "delay" they probably mean "Not tell anyone about it" given how well, it's already been scanning all stuff, would it really be surprising this change was not out of the backlash but out of a secret warrant with a gag order they're not allowed to disclose and nobody can really know about?


Frankly, child and / or terrorism is the number #1 reason why our privacy is slowly being demolished in favor of security. Fact is mass surveillance did'nt stop terrorists from bombing a airport in Belgium either while these guys simply communicated over unencrypted SMS ...

I dont like the idea that my phone is going through 10k of files, listing and hashing and compare them to some foreign list provided by Apple. I have a right to privacy. I have a right that the content on my phone is mines and not to be seen or identified by using meta's. I have nothing to hide in relation of above; but it's a breach of my privacy.

If apple continues doing this ill just root my hardware or simply start considering buying a different brand.
 

Farkinell

Posts: 212   +340
With the original announcement Apple instantly torpedoed their entire marketing messaging, that they are the privacy platform. It absolutely baffles me why they would not realise this far in advance and have a strategy to explain or counter the negative feedback. A real ball-drop from Apple which now hugely compromises any future claims around this topic, and at least in the short term doesn’t benefit either them or law enforcement.

It’d be like Lysol issuing a statement saying germs are good for your immune system (most are) and that you should cut down on using household disinfectant.
 

umbala

Posts: 652   +1,155
There's a very simple solution to this problem that people are overlooking: stop using Apple products. Problem solved!
 

umbala

Posts: 652   +1,155
They'll probably wait until they can implement it with far less public outrage. I don't see Apple cancelling these plans because they know what's best for their users, or so they say......
The only way Apple will cancel those plans is if their bottom line is hit and they start losing sheep..erm, I mean customers.
 

bandit8623

Posts: 392   +219
They'll probably wait until they can implement it with far less public outrage. I don't see Apple cancelling these plans because they know what's best for their users, or so they say......
remember history and how those knew best which religion everyone should follow? only this time its big corp. and the problem is the constitution doesnt protect us against private biz
 

ZedRM

Posts: 1,067   +749
the problem is the constitution doesnt protect us against private biz
Yes it does. I think you misunderstand the constitution. The terms and definitions it describes are all inclusive, not exclusive. What applies to governments EQUALLY applies to entities(corp, business & whatnot) and citizens alike.
 

bandit8623

Posts: 392   +219
Yes it does. I think you misunderstand the constitution. The terms and definitions it describes are all inclusive, not exclusive. What applies to governments EQUALLY applies to entities(corp, business & whatnot) and citizens alike.
then we better have a talk about freedom of speech. I should have said it hasnt been protecting us from :)
 
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