Apple is reportedly developing a tool that can scan your iPhone photos for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), including media content related to child pornography. The new development, which is expected to be announced soon, will be implemented on the client (on the user’s device) to look for specific perceptual hashes, and if they appear in high quality, they are sent directly to the Apple server. The idea is to protect the privacy of users by checking their devices, although it is not clear whether the system will be abused in some way.
Cybersecurity expert Matthew Daniel Green, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Information Security, Say on twitter Apple plans to launch a client system to detect child abuse images from the iPhone. He said that this tool in development could eventually become a “key factor” for adding monitoring to encrypted messaging systems.
“According to the way Apple released this time, they will start from non-E2E [non-end-to-end] People have shared photos with the cloud. So it will not “harm” anyone’s privacy. But you have to ask, if scanning E2E photos is not the goal, why would anyone develop such a system,” Green said in a detailed post on Twitter.
Apple may cause users’ concerns with its new tool, because even if there are enough layers to prevent misuse, it may have false positives. The government can also abuse the system to go beyond searching for illegal child content and searching for media that may promote public attitudes toward political participation.
Advertisement Shout has contacted Apple to comment on the development of the reported tool and will update this space when the company responds.
In the past, it was discovered that Apple had deployed similar hashing technology to find child abuse in the emails of its iPhone users. According to reports, the Cupertino company also gave up encrypted backups on its iCloud last year in order to quietly provide backdoor access to law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
However, the new initiative seems to be done with privacy in mind, as it will be deployed on the user’s device without sending the image to the cloud. The exact scope of the tool has not yet been determined, because Apple has not specified any official details, but Green said on Twitter that an announcement may be made this week.