Apple Delays Rollout of CSAM Detection

Silvery Apple LogoLast month, Apple provided an explanation about its expanded protection for children. In short, Apple stated that the purpose was to protect children from receiving or sending sexually explicit photos. Parents would get a message if their child or teen viewed or sent one. In addition, Apple stated that was going to scan user’s iCloud photos in an effort to detect CSAM, which if found, would be reported to law enforcement.

Those features were intended to roll out with updates to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey. 9to5Mac reported that Apple has decided to “take additional time” to refine the features before launching to the public.

Apple gave a statement to 9to5Mac:

“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.”

It is unclear when Apple will decide to release those features, and it is unknown what kinds of improvements Apple intends to make.

Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) responded to Apple’s decision to “take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements.” EFF states that those features will weaken privacy and security on iPhones and other products.

EFF wrote that it is “pleased Apple is now listening to the concerns of customers, researchers, civil liberties organizations, human rights activists, LGBTQ people, youth representatives, and other groups, about the dangers posed by its phone scanning tools. But the company must go further than just listening, and drop its plans to put a backdoor into its encryption entirely.”

Personally, I think Apple really messed up when they announced those new features in a way that made users think the two were connected. It resulted in a lot of confusion. I also think Apple made a huge mistake when it assumed people would be okay with the idea of having their iCloud photos scanned. The best way around this, in my opinion, is to pull your family photos out of iCloud and store them elsewhere.