Apple employees express concern over new child safety tools

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Apple employees are voicing concern over the company’s new child safety features set to debut with iOS 15 this fall. Some say the decision to roll out such tools could tarnish Apple’s reputation as a bastion of user privacy.

Reports Reuters: Apple’s new child-safety measures are being criticized by some within its ranks, who now speak out in internal Slack channels.

Announced last week, Apple’s suite of child protection tools includes on-device processes designed to detect and report child sexual abuse material uploaded to iCloud Photos. Siri and Search will also be updated with resources to help with potentially dangerous situations. Another tool protects children against sensitive images sent via Messages.

The report stated that employees had sent more than 800 messages to a Slack channel discussing the topic since Apple’s CSAM measures. These messages have remained active for several days. Those concerned about the upcoming rollout cite common worries about potential government exploitation, a theoretical possibility that Apple deemed highly unlikely in a new support document and statements to the media this week.

According to the report, employees outside of Apple’s privacy and security teams seem to be causing the criticism. According to Reuters sources, some employees in security were not “major complainants.” Others defended Apple’s position, saying that the new systems were a reasonable response.

Some workers objected to criticisms in a thread about the upcoming photo scanning feature. The tool matches image hashes against a database of known CSAM. Others said that Slack is not the right forum for such discussions. Some employees expressed optimism that the new tools on-device will bring full end-to-end iCloud encryption.

Apple is being criticized by privacy advocates and critics who claim that the child safety protocols raise many red flags. Some of the criticism can be attributed to misinformation about Apple’s CSAM technology. However, there are legitimate concerns about mission creep and privacy violations that Apple has not addressed.

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