NEWS & ANALYSIS

Apple Delaying iPhone Update That Could Scan for Illegal Content Amid Privacy Concerns


Apple is delaying the release of an update aimed at combating child pornography amidst concerns that the software could pose broader privacy risks. 

The tech company said Friday it needs more time to make improvements on the plan announced last month, the Wall Street Journal reports. 

The company planned to rollout the iPhone software later this year that could identify known child pornography images, then send an alert if a certain number of those images were uploaded to iCloud. 

Privacy experts, however, worried the feature meant the company was softening its stance on protecting data via encryption.

“Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features,” Apple said. 

Along with the child pornography detection tool, Apple announced another child safety tool seeking to help children and parents identify sexually explicit photos sent via text message. If an account designated as a child in iCloud Family Sharing receives or prepares to send a sexually explicit photo through messages, the photo would appear blank. 

“It’s really clear a lot of messages got jumbled pretty badly in terms of how things were understood,” Apple’s senior vice president Craig Federighi, said last month. “We wish that this would’ve come out a little more clearly for everyone because we feel very positive and strongly about what we’re doing.”