Apple has been checking iCloud and emails for child abuse material since 2019

The discovery comes in the full context of criticism and distrust of the scrutiny that Apple announced earlier this August. A practice that, as we will see, would have been in place for at least two years, albeit for reasonable reasons.

To combat child exploitation, the Cupertino technology company announced earlier this month that it will search for nude photos and sexual abuse on the iPhone running iOS 15, among other similar measures, as we have previously revealed on 4gnews.

Apple has been examining iCloud and email since 2019

Apple iCloud

Although such measures should only be introduced with the arrival of iOS 15 next September, along with the next iPhone 13, Apple will already be running these checks from 2019. These are the conclusions now pointed out by CNET.

The post is based on a new report detailing the controversial practice. It should be noted that, recently, Cupertino’s technology was criticized after the announcement of these dubious measures and that potentially compromise user privacy.

Recalling Apple’s announcement, the scrutiny measures will apply not only to iPhones with iOS 15, but also to iPads with iPadOS 15. They will also be present on Mac computers with macOS Monterey.

Critics point to the possibility that this system could be subverted and used as a means of government surveillance.

Apple has been tracking iCloud and Mail since 2019

However, in statements to the publication 9To5Mac, Apple claimed to have had a scrutiny of nude photos and child sexual abuse since 2019. It is actively doing so with the aim of locating and removing such instances from its platforms with Mail and iCloud.

However, this detail was hidden from the recent announcement in early August. So Apple presented the new policy as a novelty, not an entrenched practice. Given the above, the controversy around the issue will necessarily increase.

By the way, we see in Previous versions of the Legal Policy the company’s reference to this practice. More specifically, in the “use of image comparison technology to help find and report cases of child abuse and exploitation.”

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This practice would use “digital signatures”, without providing further details on the modus operandi of this scrutiny.

The “new” would have been in effect 2 years ago in iCloud and Mail.

Apple iCloud

Also according to the 9to5Mac piece, Apple claimed to run a “limited” scan of other data, without giving further details. The exception, according to her, will be backups, iPhone and iPad backups.

These developments intensify the debate about Apple’s stance on user privacy. This privacy, by the way, has been one of the major banners of the North American company and a point of sale for consumers.

The company came to criticize Google, Facebook and other social networks. In fact, we saw its CEO, Tim Cook, criticize the exploitation of user data. According to Cook, Apple makes money selling iPhones, so it doesn’t need to track, trace, and sell user data.

In short, Cook spared no criticism of the Big Tech. It has always been firm in its stance towards user privacy. Now, faced with this new declared intention, and a practice in force since at least 2019, the company is accused of hypocrisy.

Noble intention, but what about the privacy of Apple users?

While staunch privacy advocates acknowledge Apple’s noble intentions, it’s hard to ignore the privacy risk of such a move. Even if, unfortunately, you go through a phase of increase of this type of images punishable socially and criminally through the Internet, several voices have been raised concerned about the attitude of Apple.

In its defense, the technology claims that any scrutiny will only be done on the iPhone, iPad or Mac. That is, offline to minimize the risk of any information leakage if the procedure was performed on Apple’s servers.

In addition, the person responsible for the iPhone has been willing to undergo security audits to ensure that the system would not be used for other purposes. However, the debate about this new action is still very lively.

Finally, Apple should generalize this practice with the distribution of iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey.

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