New security features in iMessage
Apple’s messaging app – iMessage – will have new tools that will notify children and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit photos. For example, when such content is received, the photo will automatically be blurred and a warning window will appear. A child will receive “useful resources, and reassured that there is no problem if he does not want to see this photo,” said Apple. At the same time, the child’s parents will receive a message if they end up viewing the pictures. Similar protections are available if a child attempts to send sexually explicit photos. The child will be notified before the photo is sent, and parents can receive a message if the child chooses to send it. Apple says it uses machine learning on the device to analyze the images and see whether or not they are sexually explicit. “The feature is designed so that Apple does not have access to messages,” the company said.
Detection CSAM in iCloud on iPhone, iPad and Mac
CSAM is primarily content that describes sexually explicit activities involving a child. Apple says it has kept user privacy in mind when designing a feature that will allow it to detect CSAM images that may be stored in iCloud Photos. Before an image is stored in iCloud Photos, an on-device matching process is performed for that image against known CSAM hashes. “This matching process is powered by a cryptographic technology called the Private Set Intersection, which determines if there is a match without revealing the result,” Apple explained.
Child safety features in Siri and Search
Siri and Search on Apple devices are also getting new tools to help kids and parents stay safe online and get help in dangerous situations. For example, users who ask Siri how they can report CSAM or child exploitation will be directed to resources on where and how to file a report. In addition, Siri and Search are also updated to intervene when users search for CSAM related queries. “These interventions will explain to users that interest in this topic is harmful and problematic, and will provide partner resources for help with this issue,” Apple added.
These new child safety features will arrive later this year with iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and macOS Monterey. Apple’s new software updates are expected to arrive in September of this year.