Apple Touch Taxpayers

Apple Will Start To Scan iPhones, Encrypted Messages For Child Porn

Apple released plans Thursday for software intended to detect and flag sexually explicit images of children in a move critics say threatens user privacy.

iOS and iPadOS will use new applications of cryptography to help limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Images (CSAM) online, while designing for user privacy, said Apple in a statement.

CSAM detection will help Apple provide valuable information to law enforcement on collections of CSAM in iCloud Photos.

“Apple’s method of detecting known CSAM is designed with user privacy in mind, the company,” said in a release. “Instead of scanning images in the cloud, the system performs on-device matching using a database of known CSAM image hashes provided by NCMEC and other child safety organizations. Apple further transforms this database into an unreadable set of hashes that is securely stored on users’ devices.”

The company will also add new tools to its Messages app that alert children and their parents if they receive or send sexually explicit images, using on-device scans that detect sexual content in message attachments. Apple will blur the sexually explicit photo, and said the child would be provided with “helpful resources” and “reassured.”

Some cybersecurity experts and privacy advocates worry the software creates an opportunity for abuse and threatens user privacy.

Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University who leaked details on the software Wednesday before it was announced, warned the program could be used by governments to access citizens’ private communications.

“Eventually it could be a key ingredient in adding surveillance to encrypted messaging systems,” Green tweeted.

On Thursday, Edwards Snowden tweeted, “No matter how well-intentioned, @Apple is rolling out mass surveillance to the entire world with this. Make no mistake: if they can scan for kiddie porn today, they can scan for anything tomorrow. They turned a trillion dollars of devices into iNarcs—*without asking.*

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