Apple revising child safety feature amid backlash

Apple has delayed the release of its new child safety features due to the public’s fear of privacy breaches. 

While many admit that they are happy the company is taking steps to clamp down on child sexual abuse material (CSAM), one particular feature was so controversial that backlash from experts brought the company to reconsider its initial launch date. 

This feature entails scanning users’ phones for material that is harmful to children before said material is uploaded to iCloud Photos. On paper, the process sounds like a detriment to user privacy. 

According to The Verge, the company is still moving ahead with its plans to launch new features to combat CSAM. However, Apple will be revising these features over the next couple of months. 

Apple has maintained over the past month that the iCloud Photo scanning system will indeed protect children and not at the expense of user privacy.  Some sources indicate that the scanning of users’ phones will be subject to material uploaded to iCloud Photos.

However, experts and members of the public who have observed the company’s statements do not agree. Privacy and security experts have expressed that it could very well implement an on-device surveillance system, violating the trust customers had put in Apple for protecting user privacy. 

On August 5, The Electronic Frontier Foundation expressed that it is “disappointed” in this recent move by the tech giant, as Apple has been, in the past, a champion of end-to-end encryption. 

Ben Thompson, an American business, technology, and media analyst expressed similar disappointment in the company. In an article published on Stratechery in August, Thompson says that Apple is “compromising” the phones of users, and giving them no choice in the matter.