Apple Deferes iPhone Photo-Scanning Plan Amid Criticism
Apple is indefinitely delaying plans to scan iPhones in the US for images of child sexual abuse following an outcry from security and privacy experts who warned the technology could be exploited for other surveillance purposes by hackers and intrusive governments, Michael Liedtke and Matt O’Brien reported for the Associated Press (AP).
Photo Insert: The barrage of criticism comes despite Apple's insistence that its technology is developed in a way that would protect the privacy of iPhone owners in the US.
The postponement announced Friday comes a month after Apple revealed it was getting ready to roll out a tool to detect known images of child sexual abuse.
The tool would work by scanning files before they’re uploaded to its iCloud backup storage system. It had also planned to introduce a separate tool to scan users’ encrypted messages for sexually explicit content.
Apple insisted its technology had been developed in a way that would protect the privacy of iPhone owners in the US.
But the Cupertino, California, company was swamped with criticism from security experts, human rights groups and customers worried that the scanning technology would open a peephole exposing personal and sensitive information.
“Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers, and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features,” Apple said in an update posted above its original photo-scanning plans.
Apple never set a specific date for when the scanning technology would roll out, beyond saying it would occur sometime this year.
The company is expected to unveil its next iPhone later this month, but it’s unclear if it will use that event to further discuss its change in plans for scanning the devices in the US.