Plans to Scan iPhones for Child Sexual Abuse Raise Privacy Concerns

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hartford defense lawyerChild pornography and other forms of child sexual abuse are a major concern in today’s society, and law enforcement officials have many tools at their disposal that they use to identify potential sexual predators and prosecute them for crimes against children. However, the increasing use of these tools has raised concerns about privacy and the violation of people’s Constitutional rights. Apple recently announced that it will be implementing a new feature that will search people’s iPhones to identify photos that may be considered child pornography. Multiple privacy and security advocates have argued that this feature is a troubling invasion of people’s privacy, and it could potentially be misused by law enforcement or other parties.

Problems With Apple’s Anti-CSAM Features

In an upcoming update to the iPhone operating system, Apple will be implementing new features meant to identify child sexual abuse material (CSAM). These features will scan users’ photos and compare their “digital fingerprints” with images in public databases of known child pornography images. If a match is found, an image will be reviewed by an Apple employee, and confirmed matches may result in law enforcement being notified and provided with a user’s information.

Other technology companies, such as Facebook, have used similar methods to scan photos uploaded by users. However, Apple’s new feature is different in that it will not just scan photos that have been uploaded to iCloud, but it will also scan photos stored on people’s individual devices. Security researchers have raised concerns that this opens the door to increased surveillance of users by law enforcement, as well as potential abuse by government officials who wish to track the activities of protestors, activists, or journalists. 

Advocates have also raised concerns about another new feature that will flag sexually explicit photos in messages sent or received by minors and notify their parents. While this feature may be beneficial in some cases by helping parents recognize and prevent child abuse, it may result in discrimination or abuse for users in marginalized communities. The feature may also increase the likelihood that minors will face serious criminal charges for “sexting,” creating a criminal record that could affect their ability to pursue employment and education in the future.

Contact Our Connecticut Criminal Law Attorney

Digital evidence is playing a role in more and more criminal cases. The Woolf Law Firm, LLC provides representation for criminal defendants, and we work to ensure that our clients’ rights are protected. We will determine whether digital evidence was obtained illegally or whether law enforcement officials committed any other violations of a defendant’s rights. To learn how we can help you determine the best defense strategy in your case, contact our Hartford, CT criminal defense lawyer at 860-290-8690.

Sources:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/05/technology/apple-iphones-privacy.html

https://www.npr.org/2021/08/06/1025402725/apple-iphone-for-child-sexual-abuse-privacy

https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/apple-s-csam-prevention-features-are-privacy-disaster-making-n1276607


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