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Apple has been checking emails for child abuse since 2019

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Apple recently announced a new security measure aimed at protecting minors. Apple’s idea is to check the images of its consumers looking for images that show child sexual abuse, which quickly generated some controversy, as although it was a good measure to begin with, the simple fact that Apple can do this may allow there to be demand for other things from consumer devices, which could be problematic. But, after all, Apple has been doing something similar since 2019.

Apple has reportedly been checking the emails of some users looking for images of child abuse since 2019, according to the 9to5Mac, adding new details to the ongoing debate about the company’s stance on user privacy.

Earlier this month, Apple announced it would implement a system to scan the iPhones, iPads and Mac computers of some people looking for images of child abuse, worrying security and privacy advocates who say the system could be turned into a security tool. government surveillance.


Apple had said in previous versions of its site that it “uses image matching technology to help find and report child exploitation,” looking at “electronic signatures” without providing further details. Apple also told the site that it runs a “limited” scan of other data, without going into more detail other than saying it didn’t include iPhone or iPad backups.

But this revelation adds more fuel to the debate over Apple’s approach to user privacy. For years, Apple has marketed its devices as safer and more reliable than its competitors. He even went so far as to publicly criticize Google and Facebook for their ad-based business models, telling customers that since Apple makes money by selling phones, it doesn’t need to rely on ad tracking and other tools to make money.

Apple also teased the tech industry with a billboard at the Consumer Electronics Show 2019 in Las Vegas, featuring the image of an iPhone and the phrase “What happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.”

When Apple announced its new scan technology, it noted that it plans to run scans on devices using its iCloud photo library sync service. The company said it prefers to scan the device rather than its servers, saying it would allow privacy advocates to audit its systems and ensure they weren’t being misused. Apple even mentioned that this new system is no more than what is already used by email providers when cataloging emails as SPAM.

“If you look at any other cloud services, they are currently scanning the photos by looking at each photo in the cloud and analyzing them; we wanted to be able to locate these photos in the cloud without looking at people’s photos,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s head of software engineering, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal earlier this month.

While privacy advocates question Apple’s moves, the effort comes during a wave of child abuse images on the web. The number of reported child sexual abuse materials increased 50% in 2020, according to a report by The New York Times, most of which reported by Facebook.

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