TSR Tech: Apple just released its plans to scan U.S. #iPhones for images of child sexual abuse, AP News reports.
It’s a move that is being praised by child protection groups but raises concern among some security researchers who fear the system could be misused by government agencies.
The tool that is designed to detect known images of child pornography, called “NeuralHash,” will scan images before they are uploaded to iCloud. If NeuraHash finds a match, the image will be reviewed by a human and if child pornography is confirmed, the user’s account will be disabled and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be notified.
Separately, Apple is set to scan users’ encrypted messages for sexually explicit content as a child safety measure. The detection system will only flag images that are already in the center’s database of known child pornography, so parents snapping innocent photos of a child in the bath can be assured that their images won’t get flagged.
But of course, there are those with concerns. Matthew Green, a top cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins University, is worried the system could be used to frame innocent people by sending them seemingly innocuous images designed to trigger matches for child pornography.
That could fool Apple’s algorithm and falsely alert law enforcement. “Researchers have been able to do this pretty easily,” Green said of the ability to trick such systems.
Opponents of the tech say other abuses could include government surveillance of dissidents or protesters.
“What happens when the Chinese government says, ‘Here is a list of files that we want you to scan for,’” Green asked. “Does Apple say no? I hope they say no, but their technology won’t say no.”
Other tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Facebook have for years been sharing digital fingerprints of known child sexual abuse images.
Apple has been under government pressure for a long time about allowing increased surveillance of encrypted data.
What are your thoughts on Apple’s new initiative? Let us know.
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