Apple scraps idea of scanning users’ iCloud photos for child pornography

A year ago, Apple announced it would implement technology that detects photos of child pornography on users’ phones, making it easier to spot pedophiles and alert authorities. But the CSAM (child sexual abuse material) detection technology is a controversial one, and one that has been shown to be unreliable in reality, as told by a US father who had his Google account irretrievably blocked after sending photos of his son’s condition to his paediatrician during the pandemic. Apple now says it is dropping the technology.

Much-criticized technology that detects child pornography will not be used by Apple

The company has yet to offer a clear reason why it will no longer implement CSAM. The company is talking about consultations with experts in the field, but most likely it’s the high risks of mistakes that could negatively affect the lives of innocent people. Not only would they have their accounts locked, and unlocking them could consume extra resources from Apple in a lengthy process, but involving authorities in the process could result in users being placed on national and international abuser registries without actually having committed a crime.

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“After extensive consultations with experts to gather feedback for our proposed child protection initiatives last year, we will deepen our investment in the Communication Safety features we originally launched in 2021. We decided not to move forward with the CSAM content detection tool for iCloud photos. Children can be protected without verification of personal data from companies and we will continue to work with governments, children’s advocates and other companies to protect young people and ensure their right to privacy, but also to make the internet a safer place for children and for all of us.”, Apple representatives told Wired.

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Users who have criticized the integration of this technology have brought up the right to privacy, with Apple to scan all their photos. This would have gone against the security and privacy initiatives that Apple constantly touts when talking about its devices.

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