Apple attempts to clarify its new iPhone scanning and iCloud policies

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Apple’s recent announcement concerning iPhone scanning created a buzz across the internet. The topic has even created some concern within Apple itself. Now, the company is trying to clarify its iPhone scanning and iCloud scanning policies, which will kick in on iOS 15.

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Apple announced that it would start iPhone scanning to find child abuse images and that this would be baked into iOS 15 and implemented in the United States only. Shortly after that revelation, Apple issued an official press release, which was even more confusing for many.

Privacy experts have been concerned over this new move by Apple, prompting the company to attempt a clarification. Apple now says the iPhone scanning would only look for flagged CSAM images and adds that it would take 30 of those images for a user to be flagged. According to Apple, this method will reduce the chances of a false positive.

Apple refused to say whether these were adjustments made in the face of criticism or specifics that were always in place, though it did add that as a policy still in development, change should be expected.

Nonetheless, privacy advocates believe they’re making a difference. “Even if they don’t ultimately nix the plan, we’re forcing them to do the work they should’ve done by consulting us all along,” tweeted Stanford University surveillance researcher Riana Pfefferkorn. “Keep pushing.”

Most recently, Apple VP of software engineering Craig Federighi told the Wall Street Journal that Apple’s new policies are “much more private than anything that’s been done in this area before.”

“We, who consider ourselves absolutely leading on privacy, see what we are doing here as an advancement of the state of the art in privacy, as enabling a more private world,” he said. Adding that the system had been developed “in the most privacy-protecting way we can imagine and in the most auditable and verifiable way possible,” he painted the company’s solution as preferable to its cloud storage rivals, which look and analyze “every single photo.”

Tom’s Guide

Privacy experts and advocates agree that Apple made a mess of this announcement and is still not clear enough on what its iPhone scanning technology is capable of and will do.

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