Apple cancels initiative to scan your iPhone photos for child abuse material
In mid-2021, Apple announced a series of measures aimed at protecting minors who use its devices. One proposal was to scan iPhone photos for child abuse material. After more than a year of criticism, those of Cupertino have canceled their initiativeas reported The Wall Street Journal.
The news, of course, is somewhat surprising, since Apple had been firm in moving forward despite complaints from its users. It was even repetitive in making it clear that photo scanning would always happen within the device, not on external servers. However, this was not enough to calm the waters.
Now, instead of scanning iPhone photos, the company will dedicate efforts to help prevent child abuse situations through the very security of its devices and services. Craig Federighi, Apple's vice president of software, stated the following to the aforementioned medium:
"Child sexual abuse can be prevented before it happens… That is where we are putting our energy in the future."
It is for this reason that, today, Apple announced Advanced Data Protection, which is basically the expanding end-to-end encryption to almost everything you store in iCloud. Previously, the service only offered this level of security on 14 categories of data, but with this update it goes up to 23.
Among the information that will benefit from end-to-end encryption are, precisely, the photos. Also the reminders, notes, messages and even the backups of your iOS device. However, iCloud Mail, Contacts, and Calendar will remain without the aforementioned encryption, since they work together and encrypting them would break their interoperability.
Advanced Data Protection, yes, will initially be available only in the United States, while users in other countries will be able to take advantage of it at some point in 2023. Finally, you should know that end-to-end encryption will not be activated by default in the added categories. Therefore, it must be enabled manually.
However, end-to-end encryption could also work against Apple in specific situations. As which? When authorities request access to device information during an investigation, for example. Nevertheless, Apple does not intend to give in even in this type of case. "Ultimately, keeping customer data secure has big implications for our overall security," Federighi said.
In the past, it has already been shown that Apple, regardless of the government authority that approaches it, will help to access the protected data of a device. You can ask the FBI, which had to resort to hackers to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone.