IWF welcomes Apple’s 'promising' plans to scan devices for child sexual abuse material

Published:  Fri 6 Aug 2021

The IWF has welcomed Apple’s “promising” plans to scan devices in the US for child sexual abuse material.

Apple has announced it plans to introduce new child safety features in a bid to ensure child safety and to limit the spread of child sexual abuse material.

The company says it will perform “on-device matching”, scanning against a database of known abuse image hashes.

Hashes are a unique digital fingerprint of known child sexual abuse material. Images on devices in the US will be flagged if their digital fingerprint strongly matches that of known abuse imagery in the database.

At this point, Apple will manually review each report, disable the user’s account, and send a report to NCMEC (the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children).

Apple say this approach respects users’ privacy while combatting the proliferation of child sexual abuse material. 

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “We are really pleased that Apple is taking this vital step to make sure children are kept safe from predators and those who would exploit them online.

“This is a great example of a technology company doing the right thing and creating equivalency. They have acknowledged that, while customers’ privacy must be respected and protected, it cannot be at the expense of children’s safety.

“This system is a promising step in making the internet a safer place for everyone. It puts child safety at the forefront of new technology, and sends a clear message to criminals looking to share, access, or solicit child sexual abuse content that there is nowhere safe for them to hide.”

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