Apple will refuse pressure to expand child safety tools beyond CSAM

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Apple addressed privacy concerns about its new iCloud Photos feature to scan for child abuse photos. Apple stated that it would reject any government attempts to invade privacy.

Privacy and security experts are not happy with Apple’s latest suite of tools for children. Some falsely claim Apple has abandoned its privacy stance. Apple now offers Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) to counter this claim.

According to the full document, Apple aims to create technology that empowers and enhances people’s lives while protecting them from predators who use communication tools to exploit them and recruit them.

It continues, “Since the Announcement of these Features, many stakeholders, including privacy organizations, child safety organizations have expressed support for it.” “Some people have reached out to me with questions. 

What is the difference in communication safety between Messages and CSAM detection? It asks. The two features are distinct and do not use the same technology.

Apple emphasizes that the new features in Messages are “designed to give parents…more tools to help children protect themselves.” Images can be analyzed on-device by sending and receiving messages. This does not alter privacy assurances contained in Messages.

CSAM detection in iCloud Photos does not send Apple information about any other photos than those that correspond with known CSAM images. 

The document focuses largely on what AppleInsider reported Friday. However, there are a few things that the document explicitly states that were not stated before.

Privacy and security experts are concerned about the possibility that images could be scanned on mobile devices to benefit authoritarian states. They might demand that Apple broaden the search terms it uses.

According to the FAQ, Apple won’t accept such requests. They will not be accepted in the future. 

The technology cannot detect CSAM stored in iCloud. We won’t accept any government request to expand it. 

Apple’s most recent publication on the topic comes after an open letter asking for the company to reconsider its features.

Second, while AppleInsider said this before based on commentary from Apple, the company has clarified in no uncertain terms that the feature does not work when iCloud Photos is turned off.

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