Apple postpones plan to scan iPhones for child porn

Apple postpones the commissioning of software that allows iPhones to search for child pornography. The company says it takes more time to improve the system before it becomes operational.

After feedback from customers, interest organisations and researchers, we decided to take more time in the coming months to further improve this important child protection system, the company says.

The system is part of the iOS 15 operating system, which is due to be available this fall. The scan function is activated only in the US, but basically runs on all devices that have the new operating system installed. So scanning is done on the device itself, without the user knowing about it.

Images identified as suspicious by the system are then viewed by an Apple moderator. If he considers child pornography, the material will be forwarded to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Incidentally, the function does not become active until the user turns on the icloud backup.

Server controlled by Chinese government

There was a lot of criticism of Apple‘s decision. Around ninety organizations worldwide have called on the tech giant to come back from his intention to search user photos. Many security and privacy experts are skeptical.

They fear that the technology can be used at a later stage to monitor more data from Apple users. Authoritarian regimes could use the system to identify people with dissidents, for example, is fear.

We will not respond to a government’s request to expand this function, the company wrote in response to such criticism. Apple has previously faced governmentsdemands to make changes that affect user privacy, and has always steadfastly rejected those demands. We will continue to do that in the future.

However, Apple has already, writes tech website The Verge, among others. Four years ago, all Chinese users’ cloud files moved to a server controlled by the Chinese government. And during student protests in Hong Kong, Apple removed the HKMap.live app from the app store. It was used by the protest movement to keep an eye on the police.