Home iOS Did Apple send its controversial CSAM scanning back to the lab?

Did Apple send its controversial CSAM scanning back to the lab?

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Apple appears to have stepped back on its least popular innovation since the Butterfly Keyboard, stealthily slicing mentions of its controversial CSAM scanning/surveillance tech from its website following widespread criticism of the idea.

Child protection tools

The company in August announced plans to introduce ‘surveillance as a service’ on iPhones.

At that time, it revealed new communication safety features now available in iOS 15.2 and another tool – including the capacity to scan a user’s devices against a set of data to identify child sexual abuse material (CSAM). If such material was discovered, the system flagged that user up for investigation.

The response was immediate. Privacy advocates across the planet quickly realized that if your iPhone could scan your system for one thing, it could easily be asked to scan for another. They warned such technology would become a Pandora’s box, open to abuse by authoritarian governments. Researchers also warned that the tech might not work particularly well and could be abused or manipulated to implicate innocent people.

Apple tried a charm offensive, but it failed. While some industry watchers attempted to normalize the scheme on the basis that everything that happens on the Internet can already be tracked, most people remained utterly unconvinced.

A consensus emerged that by introducing such a system, Apple was deliberately or accidentally ushering in a new era of on-device universal warrantless surveillance that sat poorly beside its privacy promise.

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