Apple will analyze photos and messages for signs of child sexual abuse

Tech giant Apple will release a series of system updates “by the end of the year” that will allow the company’s devices to analyze photos and messages that report signs of child abuse.

The company claims that these new system updates will be introduced so that user communications remain out of reach of Apple. For now, the new functions introduced by Apple will be restricted to the United States of America.

The goal is to use a machine-learning system to check the content of children’s messages for photos that might seem sexually explicit. This analysis will be done over the phone, according to the company, which guarantees that it will not have access to these communications.

If a person receives a message that is considered sexually explicit, it will automatically blur, the child will be warned that the content may be sensitive, and will receive additional information about these messages. From that moment on, the user will have the option to block the contact.

If the child decides to see the message, they will be informed that their parents will be alerted and that an adult will be notified. The same will happen with messages considered explicit, says Apple.

The most controversial update is Apple’s proposal to check the photographs stored in the gallery of the various devices in search of “child sexual abuse material”. The company again underlines that this process will be restricted to the device and that it will compare the users’ photographic catalog with various databases of images of abuse provided by child protection organizations.

If there is a sufficiently high degree of similarity, the images will become available to the company, which will analyze the image “manually” to confirm the nature of the images. In the case of “child sexual abuse material”, the user’s account will be blocked and reported to the authorities.

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