Apple announces new algorithms to verify user photos and protect children

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Following yesterday's leak, Apple has indeed announced new systems to protect children from violence and inappropriate content.

Apple announced new algorithms to verify user photos and protect children

In particular, in iOS and iPadOS 15, the company's mobile devices will receive the function of automatically checking photos for signs of child abuse. Smartphones and tablets will download a database with markers of such content (to which the user will not have access) and will check all photos for the presence of these markers.

If a match is found, the photo will be tagged when uploaded to iCloud (which Apple employees can see, but not users themselves). After a certain number of tagged photos are uploaded to iCloud, an employee will review them. If these images are confirmed to have involved child abuse, Apple will be able to share the data with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a non-profit organization supported by the US police.

At first, this feature will appear only in the United States, probably in the fall, along with the release of stable iOS and iPadOS 15. In the future, it is planned to expand to other regions. It will be enabled automatically, you can disable it only by declining to sync photos with iCloud.

Apple announced new algorithms for checking user photos and protecting children

Also, the Messages app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac will get a new Communication Security feature. It will warn children and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit images. This will use machine learning on the device. Suspicious photos will be automatically blurred, and the child will receive a warning that the content may not be intended for their eyes.

In the case of children under the age of 13, parents will also have the opportunity to receive a notification if their the child will view such a photo or forward the photo to another contact even after a warning. However, the child will be warned that parents will know about this before he decides to open the photo.

Apple said that “Communication Security” will appear in iOS 15, iPadOS 15 and macOS Monterey later this year for family accounts records with parental controls configured. Apple ensures that iMessage conversations remain secure with end-to-end encryption and messages cannot be read from the outside: for the new feature, photos will be processed on the device itself without uploading to the cloud.