Apple is open to expanding the child abuse detection system to third-party applications

Apple today held a briefing on its new security features to reduce the distribution of child abuse material.

During the session, Apple said that while it has nothing to share today in terms of an ad, expanding child safety features to third parties so that users are even more protected would be a desirable goal.

In case you didn’t know, Apple recently released three new child safety features that will arrive in future versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and/or watchOS 8.

First, the Messaging app on iPhone, iPad and Mac You will be able to notify children when they receive or send sexually explicit photos, as well as notify their parents. When the feature is enabled, Messaging will analyze the images received and, if a photo is considered sexually explicit, it will automatically disappear and the child will be notified.

Apple didn’t provide any specific examples, but one possibility would be that this security function is available for apps like Snapchat, Instagram or WhatsApp so that the sexually explicit photos a child receives are blurry. After all, in countries like Spain, most iPhone users use WhatsApp before Messaging to communicate.

In second place, Apple devices will detect known images of child sexual abuse material to be uploaded to iCloud, that will allow Apple to report these cases to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with US security forces. Apple today confirmed that the process will only apply to photos uploaded to iCloud Photos, not videos.

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Again, although Apple hasn’t given any examples, one possibility would be that This image abuse detection system is extended to third party apps that upload photos to places other than iCloud.

Third, Apple will expand Siri and Spotlight Search targeting across devices, providing additional features to help kids and parents stay safe online and get help in unsafe situations.

Manzana did not provide a timeline on when child safety features could be extended to third parties, noting that it has not yet completed testing and implementing the features, and the company also said it would have to ensure that any potential expansion would not harm the privacy properties or effectiveness of the features.

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