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US iPhones are being scanned by Apple for Images of Child Sexual Abuse

Apple announced plans to scan US iPhones for photographs of child sexual assault, eliciting praise from child welfare organisations but raising concerns among security researchers that the system may be abused, notably by governments seeking to monitor their citizens. The technology “neuralMatch,” which is designed to recognise known photographs of child sexual abuse, will scan images before they are posted to iCloud.

The photograph will be examined by a person if it discovers a match. The user’s account will be disabled and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children will be alerted if child pornography is discovered. Separately, as a kid safety safeguard, Apple plans to analyse users’ encrypted texts for sexually explicit content, which has upset privacy activists.

Only photographs that are already in the center’s database of known child pornography will be flagged by the detection system. Parents who take careless images of their children in the bath should be unconcerned. The matching tool, which doesn’t “see” such photos, but rather mathematical “fingerprints” that represent them, might be used for more malicious purposes, according to researchers.The method, according to Matthew Green, a prominent cryptography researcher at Johns Hopkins University, may be used to incriminate innocent people by sending them seemingly innocuous photographs tailored to trigger matches for child pornography. Apple system might be fooled, causing law police to be notified. Of the capacity to deceive such systems, he stated, “researchers have been able to do this very effortlessly.”

Surveillance of dissidents or demonstrators by the government could also be abused. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and other technology corporations have been sharing digital fingerprints of known child sexual assault photos for years. Apple has employed them to search for child pornography in user files saved in its iCloud service, which is not as securely protected as its on-device data.

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