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Apple’s iPhones Will Include New Tools to Flag Child Sexual Abuse

Apple’s iPhones Will Include New Tools to Flag Child Sexual Abuse
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Apple’s iPhones Will Include New Tools to Flag Child Sexual Abuse

Apple’s iPhones Will Include New Tools to Flag Child Sexual Abuse

Apple on Thursday unveiled changes to iPhones designed to capture nude photos of children or sent to children, a move that will likely appeal to parents and law enforcement alike, but already worried privacy watchers.

Apple said iPhones would begin using complex technology later this year to spot images of child sexual abuse, commonly known as child pornography, that users upload to Apple’s cloud storage service, called iCloud. . Apple also said it will soon allow parents to activate a feature that can signal when their children send or receive nude photos in a text message.

Apple said it designed the new features to protect user privacy, including ensuring that Apple never sees or discovers naked images exchanged in a child’s text messages. The scan is performed on the child’s device and notifications are only sent to the parent’s devices. Apple provided quotes from some cybersecurity experts and child safety groups who praised Apple’s approach.

But other cybersecurity experts were still concerned. Matthew D. Green, professor of cryptography at Johns Hopkins University, said Apple’s new features set a dangerous precedent by creating surveillance technology that could be exploited by law enforcement or governments.

“They sell privacy to the world and make people trust their devices,” Green said. “But now they are essentially capitulating to the worst possible demands from every government. I don’t see how they’re going to say no from now on.

The mixed reviews of Apple’s new features show the thin line tech companies must cross between helping public safety and ensuring customer privacy. For years, law enforcement officials have complained that technologies such as smartphone encryption have hampered criminal investigations, while technical executives and cybersecurity experts have argued that such encryption is crucial. to protect personal data and privacy.

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This story will be updated.

Michael H. Keller and Gabriel JX Dance contributed reporting.

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