Apple Open to Expanding New Child Safety Features to Third-Party Apps

Apple today held a questions-and-answers session with reporters regarding its new child safety features, and during the briefing, Apple confirmed that it would be open to expanding the features to third-party apps in the future.

iphone communication safety feature
As a refresher, Apple unveiled three new child safety features coming to future versions of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, and/or watchOS 8.

Apple's New Child Safety Features

First, an optional Communication Safety feature in the Messages app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac can warn children and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit photos. When the feature is enabled, Apple said the Messages app will use on-device machine learning to analyze image attachments, and if a photo is determined to be sexually explicit, the photo will be automatically blurred and the child will be warned.

Second, Apple will be able to detect known Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) images stored in iCloud Photos, enabling Apple to report these instances to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a non-profit organization that works in collaboration with U.S. law enforcement agencies. Apple confirmed today that the process will only apply to photos being uploaded to iCloud Photos and not videos.

Third, Apple will be expanding guidance in Siri and Spotlight Search across devices by providing additional resources to help children and parents stay safe online and get help with unsafe situations. For example, users who ask Siri how they can report CSAM or child exploitation will be pointed to resources for where and how to file a report.

Expansion to Third-Party Apps

Apple said that while it does not have anything to share today in terms of an announcement, expanding the child safety features to third parties so that users are even more broadly protected would be a desirable goal. Apple did not provide any specific examples, but one possibility could be the Communication Safety feature being made available to apps like Snapchat, Instagram, or WhatsApp so that sexually explicit photos received by a child are blurred.

Another possibility is that Apple's known CSAM detection system could be expanded to third-party apps that upload photos elsewhere than iCloud Photos.

Apple did not provide a timeframe as to when the child safety features could expand to third parties, noting that it has still has to complete testing and deployment of the features, and the company also said it would need to ensure that any potential expansion would not undermine the privacy properties or effectiveness of the features.

Broadly speaking, Apple said expanding features to third parties is the company's general approach and has been ever since it introduced support for third-party apps with the introduction of the App Store on iPhone OS 2 in 2008.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Report: These 10 New AI Features Are Coming in iOS 18

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:57 pm PDT by
iOS 18 and macOS 15 will offer an array of new AI features such as auto-generated emojis, suggested replies to emails and messages, and more, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. A significant portion of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is expected to focus on AI features. Writing his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that Apple's AI strategy emphasizes providing...
new best buy blue

Best Buy's Memorial Day Sale Has Record Low Prices on iPads, MacBooks, and Much More

Friday May 24, 2024 7:12 am PDT by
Best Buy today kicked off its Memorial Day weekend sale, and it has some of the best prices we've tracked in weeks on iPads and MacBooks. Specifically, you'll find record low prices on the 5th generation iPad Air, iPad mini 6, M2 MacBook Air, and M3 MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

Gurman: iOS 18 Will Allow Users to Recolor App Icons and Place Them Anywhere

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:22 pm PDT by
Apple's iOS 18 update will introduce new features for further customizing the iPhone's home screen, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman claimed that Apple will allow users to change the color of app icons in iOS 18. For example, "you can make all your social icons blue or finance-related ones green." This kind of home screen...
Apple iPhone 14 color lineup feature

Apple Now Selling Refurbished iPhone 14 Models

Friday May 24, 2024 11:15 am PDT by
Apple today added refurbished iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max devices to its online store for refurbished products, offering the prior-generation iPhones at a discount for the first time since their 2022 launch. The iPhone 14 is available starting at $619, the iPhone 14 Pro is available starting at $759, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max is available starting at $849. ...
top stories 25may2024

Top Stories: iOS 17.5.1 Fixes Concerning Photos Bug, All-New iPhone 17 Model Rumored, and More

Saturday May 25, 2024 6:00 am PDT by
It's been quite a week of Apple news and rumors, ranging from a concerning bug with deleted photos reappearing on users' devices to hot rumors about a new high-end iPhone model for 2025 and a MacBook with a foldable screen coming as soon as 2026. Other news and rumors this week included fresh expectations for iOS 18 features and new headphones from Sonos to compete head-to-head with AirPods...

Top Rated Comments

crawfish963 Avatar
37 months ago
This is getting worse and worse. No way this will backfire….
Score: 85 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
37 months ago
Third-party Apps? Come on now. Apple is doing the MOST now. Imagine if Facebook gets ahold of the photos/information. Isn't Whatsup App belong to Facebook? SMH.

This is just getting creepier and creepier. What happened to this, Apple?



Attachment Image
Score: 78 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Naraxus Avatar
37 months ago
Apple used to be about privacy and security. Not any more. Apple has no more highground to stand on.
Score: 71 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DJJAZZYJET Avatar
37 months ago
Complete blatant invasion of privacy no matter how you spin the benefits of it. Hope this severely backfires.
Score: 67 Votes (Like | Disagree)
HiVolt Avatar
37 months ago
Apple wouldn't decrypt a freakin terrorists phone to help the investigation. Yet they are doing this on a massive scale now.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
millerb7 Avatar
37 months ago

Or you know, just don’t have iCloud photos turned on.
Or be like 99.999% of people, and don’t be worried about features that Will not ever apply to you
That's not how this works..... that's not how any of this works!

haha... anyways - this argument is super weak and just begging for exploits/issues. Typical weak-ass argument against mass surveillance. "I'm not hiding anything, why do I care if the police randomly pull me over and throw me out of my car and search it." This thinking rapidly escalates and it's a VERY slippery slope and hard to turn back from.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)