Winnipeg, MB — The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) welcomes news of Apple’s plans to tackle the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online through the deployment of proactive image detection technology across most of its platforms in the U.S.
Last week, Apple announced plans to roll out anti‑CSAM features for their iMessage, iCloud, and Siri/Search applications. The move will see Apple’s system warn children and parents about sensitive content and scan on‑device images against data banks of known images of CSAM.
“Proactive detection of harmful and illegal images is something we expect all electronic service providers (ESPs) to be seriously engaged in. The plan proposed by Apple for its users is a win for survivors who have had their CSAM repeatedly shared for years and I certainly hope other companies operating in the digital space will also step up and do their part,” says Lianna McDonald, Executive Director for C3P.
The adoption of robust proactive detection technology, one of the key recommendations covered in C3P’s recent report, however, has limitations in that it cannot prevent or block the sharing of new material that is unknown and therefore had no match in the data banks of existing CSAM.
“It’s tempting to believe that algorithms and technology alone can prevent online harm to children, but as we’ve seen over the years, these tools have limitations and represent only part of the solution. Human moderation, age verification, swift complaint response and content removal processes — these are all key features that help keep children safe online,” says McDonald.
Apple has not yet announced plans to expand this program to Canada. Should this occur, C3P would welcome the opportunity to assist Apple in understanding the Canadian context surrounding CSAM and the distribution of non‑consensual intimate images.