Apple Postpones Child Protection Measures

The US technology group Apple will postpone its announced system for tracking down images of abuse from children. The company announced that more time would be invested in the coming months for further suggestions and improvements to the system before the important functions are published.

With the postponement, the group is responding to massive criticism from security experts and data protectionists who feared that the system would be misused for state surveillance. Initially, the company wanted to introduce the changes this year, as part of updates to the operating system for iPhones, Macs and Apple Watches.

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At the beginning of August, the Californian company announced measures for more child protection. As soon as material with images of abuse is loaded into the online storage iCloud in the USA , a report is to be sent to the group. The technology used compares the photos on the device with a database of existing abuse images. In this process, so-called hashes are compared, which make an image recognizable for a system. Then the authorities can be involved.

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However, some civil rights activists and IT security researchers criticized the system for falsely accusing innocent people. In addition, authoritarian governments could try to require Apple to include other content and thus exercise political surveillance. The chairman of the Bundestag Committee on Digital Agenda, Manuel Höferlin (FDP), protested against Apple's plans in an open letter to Apple boss Tim Cook.

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Matthew Green, an expert on cryptography at Johns Hopkins University, said Apple's postponement was the right step. He advises the company to exchange ideas with the tech scene, political decision-makers and the general public before such major changes are made that threaten the privacy of all users' photo libraries.

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