Apple has announced the rollout of a new feature that is raising both praise and concern. The tool, slated for deployment later this year, will scan photos and text messages on Apple devices for known images of child sexual abuse.
Jim Lewis, a cybersecurity expert, said Apple “has done everything possible to make this as privacy-friendly as possible.”
“There will be a part of the program that will have access to the data .. what they call image hashes, in other words, the image reduced to a digital formula,” said Lewis, senior vice president from the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC “Apple will use this digital formula to find things, pictures, that match it on your device. “
If there is a match, the photos will be shown to an Apple employee. The verified sensitive material will then be forwarded to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the user’s iCloud account will be locked.
The move has sparked both applause and protest on Twitter, Tom Hanson reports for “CBS This Morning: Saturday”.
Ashton Kutcher called it “a big step forward in the fight to eliminate” child pornography from the Internet.
But security watchers fear the new software could be exploited by hackers and foreign governments.
WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart said he was “concerned”.
“I think this is the wrong approach and a setback for the privacy of people all over the world,” he said. in a series of tweets.
“Can this scanning software running on your phone be error-proof?” The researchers were not allowed to find out, ”he tweeted.
Lewis said the Apple program “is designed in such a way that the chances of it making a mistake … saying something is child pornography when it isn’t … are infinitely small.”
“I don’t think it’s a serious threat to privacy,” he said.
Lewis said all tech companies are looking for ways to deal with malicious content. “There are a lot of bad things on the internet and it is later than late that they are trying to step in to change that,” he said.
Apple says its efforts to protect children will evolve and develop over time.