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Apple will scan iMessages and iCloud photos to fight child abuse

When it comes to child abuse, Apple draws a clear line despite its commitment to user privacy (Image: Apple, edited)
When it comes to child abuse, Apple draws a clear line despite its commitment to user privacy (Image: Apple, edited)
Apple released details on the controversial steps it will take to fight child abuse in the United States. Privacy advocates strongly criticized Apple's plans, even though other tech companies have been using similar technologies for many years.

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Apple has officially announced that it will implement new measures to fight child abuse in the upcoming iPadOS and iOS 15 updates for its mobile devices like the iPhone 12 (from US$564 on Amazon). Even though it is for a good cause, privacy advocates worry about the overall three actions that Apple is planning to take.

First of all, the Cupertino-based company will start to analyze pictures in the native iOS Messages app on devices that are used by children. When a minor receives or sends a message that includes explicit content, the picture will be automatically blurred and parents as well as the child itself will be warned.

Furthermore, Apple will start matching photos that are uploaded and stored on its iCloud servers to a databank of known abusive material. To do that, the company utilizes the so-called NeuralHash technology, which is illustrated in the image below. This procedure is exclusively used to identify and report abusive material. Apple vows that the privacy of its customers will not be violated, even though critics have pointed out that the company could use this same technology to identify all types of content in the pictures of iCloud users. In fact, tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter and Microsoft have used this technology for years, which most customers probably weren't aware of.

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Image: Apple
Image: Apple

Last but not least, Siri and the Spotlight search will provide parents and kids with more useful information regarding abuse. Later this year, all these functions will be activated on Apple devices that are used in the United States, although the iPhone maker has plans to bring these safety features to more countries in the future.

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Enrico Frahn
Editor of the original article: Enrico Frahn - Tech Writer - 576 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2021
My fascination for technology goes back a long way to the Pentium II era. Modding, overclocking and treasuring computer hardware has since become an integral part of my life. As a student, I further developed a keen interest in mobile technologies that can make the stressful college life so much easier. After I fell in love with the creation of digital content while working in a marketing position, I now scour the web to bring you the most exciting topics in the world of tech. Outside the office, I’m particularly passionate about motorsports and mountain biking.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 08 > Apple will scan iMessages and iCloud photos to fight child abuse
Enrico Frahn, 2021-08- 6 (Update: 2021-08- 6)