Apple Clears Its Stand on CSAM

Sofie John
3 min readAug 18, 2021


Apple has been in the headlines for quite some time now due to its rules on kid safety. In recent days, Apple stated that it would roll out a new function that would check the iCloud of users for pictures of child sexual assault. Apple’s statement drew the ire of privacy activists, who slammed the company’s decision. Apple, on the other hand, has recently published a clarification, stating that it would only utilize its technology to scan pictures that have previously “been reported by clearinghouses in several countries.”

Threshold of 30

It was reported by the news agency Reuters that Apple said that a threshold of 30 pictures should be found in a person’s phone before Apple’s technology notifies the business that a human should examine it and determine whether it should be submitted to law enforcement. Apple said that the company would begin with 30 employees, but the number would decrease in the following days.

The cryptographic architecture prevents Apple servers from decrypting any match data before the threshold is reached. It also prevents Apple from counting the number of matches for any particular account until the threshold is reached.

Once the barrier has been surpassed, Apple servers can only decode vouchers that correspond to positive matches, and the servers get no knowledge of any additional pictures. Apple stated in a lengthy document that the encrypted vouchers enable Apple servers to access a visual derivative, such as a low-resolution version of each matched picture, via the use of the vouchers.

Modifications are anticipated

That Apple was unhappy with its handling of the forthcoming technology’s communications is also revealed in the Reuters article. Apple would not say if it has changed any of its practices in response to criticism. Because the system is still under development, modifications are anticipated before a final rollout.

It had previously been claimed that Apple’s workers were dissatisfied with the company’s kid safety measures. Apple workers had sent almost 800 comments to an internal Slack channel to express their concerns about the company’s decision. The workers were concerned that oppressive regimes, such as China might take advantage of the function. The function may be used to monitor items unrelated to child sexual abuse, and individuals could be spied on by Apple at the government’s behest if the option is activated.

Apple had previously said on its blog that the function would first be available in the United States, with plans to roll it out to additional countries later on in the year.

Apple Inc. has previously announced measures to prevent the spread of child sex abuse content. An app from the Cupertino-based tech giant lets you scan your iPhone for CSAM (child sexual abuse) content. Later, iOS 15, iPad OS 15, watch OS 8, and Mac OS Monterey versions will include CSAM detection features. In addition to photos, Siri, search, and messaging will include CSAM detection.

What does iCloud Photos scanning do?

The iCloud Photos scanning technology is looking for pictures of child sexual abuse. If you use iOS or iPadOS in the US and sync photos with iCloud Photos, your device will locally check the photos for CSAM. Enough matches are detected, and Apple moderators are notified. A moderator will deactivate the account and submit the pictures to the police if they find CSAM.

The other changes, though, drew much more criticism. An option in one of them hides sexually explicit images for users under 18 and alerts parents if a kid under 12 sees or transmits them.

Apple is rolling out a new Messages feature to shield kids from unsuitable pictures. If parents allow it, devices containing minors will check incoming and outgoing images for “sexually explicit” material. (Apple claims it’s not strictly a nudity filter, but it’s close enough.) If the classifier finds this material, it obscures the image and asks the user to see or transmit it.

CSAM Scanning is not new

No way. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and other sites check users’ files against hash libraries, typically using PhotoDNA from Microsoft. They must also notify the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a non-profit partner with law enforcement.

But Apple has been restrained till recently. They utilize picture matching technology to detect child exploitation, they claimed. But it told reporters it hadn’t examined iCloud Photos. (It acknowledged scanning iCloud Mail but gave no more details regarding scanning other Apple services.)

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Sofie John

I am a content creator. I write blogs related to different news, updates, upcoming events, etc. I help my readers to keep updated with all recent happenings