Hands holding an iPhone.

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Apple removes references on website to its controversial plan to scan phones for child sex abuse material

References to the controversial technology no longer are on the website.


Andrew Wyrich


Published Dec 15, 2021   Updated Dec 15, 2021, 12:02 pm CST

Apple has quietly removed references to its controversial plan to scan users’ iPhones for potential child sexual abuse material (CSAM) from its website.

The scrubbing of the references to the plan was first reported by MacRumors. The plan was ultimately put on hold after the tech giant received a wave of criticism from security experts and privacy advocates over its features, which included scanning users’ photos and messages for child sexual abuse material and sexually explicit material.

Specifically, Apple said a user’s phone would scan photos that are synced with iCloud photos for known pictures of sexual abuse imagery. Additionally, the company said it would scan messages of users who are under 18 for sexually explicit content and would warn parents if that content was on devices for users who were under 13.

Concerns were immediately flagged about how the technology could be used in the future and how it could impact children who don’t have good relationships with their parents. A group of more than 90 organizations told Apple that the technology could be used to “censor protected speech, threaten the privacy and security of people around the world, and have disastrous consequences for many children.”

Amid the flood of criticism, Apple announced in September that it was pausing the roll out of the features, saying it was doing so “based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others.”

In a message on its website, the company said it would take “additional time over the coming months” to “collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.”

However, that message—and information about the photo scanning technology specifically—is no longer visible on Apple’s website.

Archived versions of Apple’s Child Safety website show the message about the delay and references to CSAM scanning. However, the page no longer shows those today.

In a statement to the Verge, Apple said the company’s position hasn’t changed since it announced the delay in September.

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*First Published: Dec 15, 2021, 11:57 am CST