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We reported yesterday that Apple has launched a number of child safety features on the iPhone, one of which includes scanning all your photos for images of child abuse before uploading them to iCloud, and then reporting users to the police if enough such images are found.
Scanning cloud storage for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is a normal feature of cloud storage, but until now Apple has resisted implementing the feature due to privacy reasons.
Apple now believes they have found a way to accomplish this without compromising user privacy, but many pundits, including the EFF, have expressed unhappiness about Apple’s approach, with the EFF saying Apple “opens a backdoor to your private life.“
Apple has responded internally to the accusations in a note by Sebastien Marineau-Mes, a software VP at Apple. He writes:
Today marks the official public unveiling of Expanded Protections for Children, and I wanted to take a moment to thank each and every one of you for all of your hard work over the last few years. We would not have reached this milestone without your tireless dedication and resiliency.
Keeping children safe is such an important mission. In true Apple fashion, pursuing this goal has required deep cross-functional commitment, spanning Engineering, GA, HI, Legal, Product Marketing and PR. What we announced today is the product of this incredible collaboration, one that delivers tools to protect children, but also maintain Apple’s deep commitment to user privacy.
We’ve seen many positive responses today. We know some people have misunderstandings, and more than a few are worried about the implications, but we will continue to explain and detail the features so people understand what we’ve built. And while a lot of hard work lays ahead to deliver the features in the next few months, I wanted to share this note that we received today from NCMEC. I found it incredibly motivating, and hope that you will as well.
I am proud to work at Apple with such an amazing team. Thank you!
The note from the NCMEC Sebastien refers to and presumably endorses notes:
I wanted to share a note of encouragement to say that everyone at NCMEC is SO PROUD of each of you and the incredible decisions you have made in the name of prioritizing child protection.
It’s been invigorating for our entire team to see (and play a small role in) what you unveiled today.
I know it’s been a long day and that many of you probably haven’t slept in 24 hours. We know that the days to come will be filled with the screeching voices of the minority.
Our voices will be louder.
Our commitment to lift up kids who have lived through the most unimaginable abuse and victimizations will be stronger.
During these long days and sleepless nights, I hope you take solace in knowing that because of you many thousands of sexually exploited victimized children will be rescued, and will get a chance at healing and the childhood they deserve.
Thank you for finding a path forward for child protection while preserving privacy.
While Apple insists they have kept user privacy intact, I suspect most users will not be happy there is a monitor scanning their photos constantly, working not on their behalf but on the behalf of the police.
Do our readers feel this move may lose Apple their reputation for privacy? Let us know below.