Apple is set for a global rollout of an iPhone function that detects nude images and blurs them, if the phone’s parental control settings are enabled.
This ‘communications security’ function is already available in the US and New Zealand, and is set for global rollout with Apple’s forthcoming iOS 16 iPhone update. The update is expected in late 2022 and will affect iPhone models dating back to the iPhone 8.
If the function is enabled, it will detect nude images in text messages, blurring incoming nude photos in the message stream. A warning will accompany the blurred image telling the receiver that it’s OK not to view it, and offering resources.
The new photo blurring function expansion will be part of Apple’s Expanded Protections for Children initiative. The company said it would “warn children when receiving or sending photos that contain nudity”.
Apple said: “If parents opt in, these warnings will be turned on for the child accounts in their Family Sharing plan.” The company added that Apple “does not get access to the messages, and no notifications are sent to the parent or anyone else.”
News of the expansion of this function, reported by French outlet RTL (via XBiz), comes after Apple backtracked on the planned launch of a similar image-scanning function that would analyze images in iCloud, searching for potential child porn pictures.
The plan was delayed indefinitely following a public backlash, with critics calling the move “spyware in disguise”.
“The backlash has forced Apple to delay this reckless and dangerous surveillance plan, but the reality is that there is no safe way to do what they are proposing. Apple’s current proposal will make vulnerable children less safe, not more safe. They should shelve it permanently,” Evan Greer, director of digital rights group Fight for the Future, said at the time.