Apple pushes back child protection mechanism after criticism of privacy threat

Apple has announced that it is indefinitely delaying the implementation of highly criticized child protection tools, revealed Friday, September 3. the specialized site 9to5Mac. Their deployment was scheduled before the end of the year.

On August 5, the Californian manufacturer announced the upcoming arrival of new tools for iPhone, Mac, iPad and Apple Watch, to protect underage users of its products and detect sexual content involving children and adolescents.

A first mechanism, integrated into all devices, was to analyze the photos that users wanted to upload to iCloud, its online data hosting service, to ensure that they did not correspond to child pornography content identified by authorities. In particular, this tool would allow Apple to report users with such images to child protection organizations.

A second tool, integrated into the iMessage messaging system, would scan live the photos sent and received by underage users and blur any image identified as being of a sexual nature, while sending a prevention message to the child concerned, and offering him advice. ‘warn his parents.

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Strong criticism

“Based on feedback from our clients, researchers and advocacy groups, we have decided to take more time over the coming months to seek additional guidance and make improvements to these child protection tools. before deploying them “, the company said on Friday, in a statement sent to 9to5Mac.

Many privacy organizations, as well as computer security researchers, have strongly criticized Apple’s announcements, believing that these tools open the door to serious abuse of the privacy of the American manufacturer’s customers. For many opponents of these mechanisms, integrating such tools directly on iPhones, iPads and Mac computers would allow governments to put pressure on Apple so that the company also scans political content, and spies, for example, on opponents. .

Planned as experiments, these child protection mechanisms were to be deployed in the fall, and only in the United States, at the same time as major software updates for Apple devices, such as iOS 15 and Mac OS Monterey.

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