Apple walks it back

Apple announced Friday that it will delay a suite of features aimed at limiting the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) that had raised serious privacy concerns.

“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 said in a statement to The Hill.

Two out of the three features had brought significant criticism.

How it works: One would alert parents if their children were sending or receiving sexually explicit images. The other would scan photos in a user’s iCloud for CSAM and report any infringing images to Apple moderators.

Apple would then report detected material to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a national clearinghouse that works with law enforcement.

The company had said the cloud scanning feature was “designed with user privacy in mind.” The feature would use a database of known CSAM image hashes and check for matches before photos are uploaded.

Pushback: Critics said that the image scanning capability could function as a backdoor for new surveillance and censorship.