Home SecurityPrivacy Europe puts Apple’s CSAM plans back in the spotlight

Europe puts Apple’s CSAM plans back in the spotlight

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Apple may have put some of its plans to scan devices for CSAM material on hold, but the European Commission has put them right back in the spotlight with a move to force messaging services to begin monitoring for such material.

CSAM is emerging as a privacy test

In terms of child protection, it’s a good thing. Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) is a far bigger problem than many people realize; victims of this appalling trade end up with shattered lives.

What’s happening, according to Euractiv, is that the European Commission is planning to introduce measures requiring messaging services to perform scans for CSAM material. However, Europe does seem to understand some of the arguments raised against Apple’s original proposals by privacy advocates, and is insisting on some restrictions, specifically:

  • The scanning technology must be ‘effective.’
  • It must be ‘suitably reliable.’
  • And it must avoid collection of “any other information from the relevant communications than the information strictly necessary to detect.”

Of course, ensuring the system is “reliable” is a challenge.

Just what is reliable?

When Apple announced its own take on CSAM scanning on its platforms, Imperial College London researchers soon warned the technology behind the system was easy to fool, calling it “not ready for deployment.”

Apple subsequently stepped back its plans, and later introduced a system to monitor for such content in its Messages app. It has not yet extended this to on-device analysis of people’s Photos libraries, as it had originally intended. It remains quite possible it scans photos stored in iCloud, as other image archiving firms do.

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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