Apple Reveals Plans to Scan Individual Phones for Signs of Child Pornography and Abuse

by mcardinal

Justin Bullock, FISM News


Apple announced on Thursday that they will be testing and releasing technology that will scan picture uploads on Apple devices to individual’s personal iCloud storage account. They will do so in order to scan and see if the pictures match those of known child pornography or abuse. Apple said that if the system discovers child pornography or abuse then the user will be reported to law enforcement.

Apple went on to say that the system that will be scanning the photos is designed to limit false positives to one in one trillion. In addition, in order to further guard against false positives, if the system identifies the user to be uploading child pornography then this will generate a human review of the case prior to notification of police.

The software will also be used to scan images for inappropriate text messages on the phones of minors. If a inappropriate text or photo is detected it could potentially be blocked and a message may be sent to the parents on the account.

Apple joins Google, Facebook, and Microsoft who all use similar systems to scan for child pornography, but Apple is the first to actively scan the “user-side” of their platform. Other companies haver previously scanned the photo’s that are uploaded to their servers. Apple’s decision to transition into this new technology comes after law enforcement agencies around the country have requested additional effort from large tech companies to crack down on the distribution of child pornography.

The response to Apple’s move has been mixed. Many people are applauding the tech giant’s stand against vile content on the internet. However, others have expressed concern that such technology will quickly devolve to greater government oversight and the disappearance of individual’s privacy. Up to this point Apple had earned a reputation of being at the forefront of protecting its customers’ privacy on its devices. It should also be noted that the technology will only scan photos that are uploaded to the iCloud, photos that are only on Apple devices will not be scanned.