There’s been a lot of talk about Apple’s controversial on-device CSAM scanner. It appears the company has heard some of the issues, as it has decided to delay the rollout until it can make more improvements.
Apple’s CSAM Scanning Technology
Apple first announced its child sexual abuse scanning last month, and it was met with some resistance. Scanning images when they’re uploaded to the cloud is nothing new, but Apple said it intended to hash scan images on the user’s device, which some people felt was an invasion of privacy.
In a statement on Apple.com, the company has revealed its decision to delay the scanning technology until it can make more improvements:
Previously we announced plans for features intended to help protect children from predators who use communication tools to recruit and exploit them and to help limit the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material. 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 says its CSAM scanning tech is actually better for users than scanning once they’re uploaded to the cloud. Here’s how the company describes the process:
Before an image is stored in iCloud Photos, an on-device matching process is performed for that image against the known CSAM hashes. This matching process is powered by a cryptographic technology called private set intersection, which determines if there is a match without revealing the result. The device creates a cryptographic safety voucher that encodes the match result along with additional encrypted data about the image. This voucher is uploaded to iCloud Photos along with the image.
The plan was to roll the scanning feature out as part of iOS 15, but it’s yet another part of the OS that won’t be ready for the launch. The company already announced that iCloud Private Relay and SharePlay wouldn’t be ready for iOS 15’s launch. Its CSAM scanner now joins the list of delayed portions of the mobile operating system.