Apple has announced that finally the controversial file scanning feature will not arrive with iOS 15 as expected.
Apple surprised everyone a month ago when it introduced new measures to combat child abuse. The most controversial aspect was the use of an algorithm capable of analyzing the photos of the device and comparing them with images of pornography and child abuse; if positive, the system would be able to initiate a complaint against the user.
The measure was criticized as a “step towards surveillance and control” despite attempts by Apple to present it as beneficial to user privacy. The company failed to convince some of its own workers , who showed their belief that It was going to break Apple’s image as a privacy advocate, which it has championed so much in recent years.
Today, the company has given in to those criticisms, and has decided to delay the implementation of the new technology. In a statement, Apple claims to have made the decision based on the opinion of consumers, researchers, advocacy groups, and others.
However, Apple has clarified that it has not canceled this technology, it has only decided to take “additional time over the next few months” to get suggestions and make improvements before launching the functionality.
The NeuralHash technology implemented by Apple is based on the use of ‘hashes’, strings of numbers generated from a file; If two files generate the same ‘hash’, it means that they are identical, and it is possible to know it without having to look at their content . Apple defended its system by promising that only images that test positive are sent to employees, who check them and report the user if necessary.
However, the real fear of associations and experts is that this technology will be abused by authoritarian governments . For example, it is possible to change the list of images to search on devices, including photos related to alternative policies or LGTB in countries where they are persecuted. Faced with these fears, Apple only assured that it would not accept that governments do that, but could not explain how it would prevent it if the law forced it.
In addition, in recent weeks Apple’s system has been analyzed by many hackers, who have already found methods of creating images that generate the same ‘hash’ as those searched. This vulnerability could be exploited to make false reports.
With the delay, Apple ensures that this controversy does not affect the next presentation of the iPhone 13, which is expected in mid-September and was initially going to include file scanning in the United States.