Apple further allay fears on iCloud child abuse detection tool

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San Francisco, Aug 14 (IANS) Facing widespread concerns over the potential misuse of its new child safety tool by the governments to spy on users, Apple has released a new paper to allay privacy fears around the plans to scan iCloud photos for child sexual abuse material (CSAM) on iPhones and iPads.

Last week, Apple confirmed plans to deploy new technology within iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iMessage that will detect potential child abuse imagery.

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In the new paper, Apple said that it will not rely on a single government-affiliated database like US-based National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to identify CSAM.

“Apple generates the on-device perceptual CSAM hash database through an intersection of hashes provided by at least two child safety organisations operating in separate sovereign jurisdictions – that is, not under the control of the same government,” the company stressed.

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Apple said that it will only flag an iCloud account if it identifies 30 images as CSAM.

“Building in an additional safety margin by assuming that every iCloud Photo library is larger than the actual largest one, we expect to choose an initial match threshold of 30 images,” the company informed.

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“Since this initial threshold contains a drastic safety margin reflecting a worst-case assumption about real-world performance, we may change the threshold after continued empirical evaluation of ‘NeuralHash’ false positive rates,” it added.

Apple earlier stressed that it will not allow any government to conduct surveillance via the tool aimed at detecting and curbing CSAM in iCloud photos.

Apple said it will not accede to any government’s request to expand the technology.

“Apple will refuse any such demands. We have faced demands to build and deploy government-mandated changes that degrade the privacy of users before, and have steadfastly refused those demands. We will continue to refuse them in the future,” the company had said in a separate document.

Apple said the tool does not impact users who have not chosen to use iCloud Photos.

“There is no impact to any other on-device data. This feature does not apply to Messages,” the company noted.



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