Apple has postponed its intentions to spread out its child sexual abuse i.e. CSAM detection system, which the company disclosed in a jumble last month, citing user and policy group criticism.
If you recall, the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. The Electronic Frontier Foundation said this week that it had received more than 25,000 customer signatures. In addition, almost a hundred policy and rights organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have urged Apple to abandon its intentions to implement the technology.
Apple said in a statement to TechCrunch regarding CSAM detection on Friday morning:
“Last month, we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them and limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material. Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers, and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”
Apple’s NeuralHash technology identifies known CSAM on a user’s device without requiring the user to see the picture or know what it contains. NeuralHash instead checks for known CSAM on a user’s device, which Apple claims is more privacy-friendly than the current blanket scanning that cloud providers use, because a user’s photographs stored in iCloud are encrypted so that even Apple can’t access the data.
However, security experts and privacy activists are concerned that the system may be exploited by well-resourced parties, such as governments, to falsely accuse innocent victims or use the system to identify other content that authoritarian nation-states deem unacceptable.
Researchers claimed they were able to produce “hash collisions” using NeuralHash. They did it just a few weeks after introducing the method. Successfully fooling the system into believing two completely distinct pictures were the same.
The company will release iOS 15 in the coming weeks.
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