Apple Removes All References to Controversial CSAM Scanning Feature From Its Child Safety Webpage [Updated]

Apple has quietly nixed all mentions of CSAM from its Child Safety webpage, suggesting its controversial plan to detect child sexual abuse images on iPhones and iPads may hang in the balance following significant criticism of its methods.

Child Safety Feature yellow
Apple in August announced a planned suite of new child safety features, including scanning users' iCloud Photos libraries for Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), Communication Safety to warn children and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit photos, and expanded CSAM guidance in Siri and Search.

Following their announcement, the features were criticized by a wide range of individuals and organizations, including security researchers, the privacy whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Facebook's former security chief, politicians, policy groups, university researchers, and even some Apple employees.

The majority of criticism was leveled at Apple's planned on-device CSAM detection, which was lambasted by researchers for relying on dangerous technology that bordered on surveillance, and derided for being ineffective at identifying images of child sexual abuse.

Apple initially attempted to dispel some misunderstandings and reassure users by releasing detailed information, sharing FAQs, various new documents, interviews with company executives, and more, in order to allay concerns.

However, despite Apple's efforts, the controversy didn't go away. Apple eventually went ahead with the Communication Safety features rollout for Messages, which went live earlier this week with the release of iOS 15.2, but Apple decided to delay the rollout of CSAM following the torrent of criticism that it clearly hadn't anticipated.

Apple said its decision to delay was "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."

The above statement was added to Apple's Child Safety page, but it has now gone, along with all mentions of CSAM, which raises the possibility that Apple could have kicked it into the long grass and abandoned the plan altogether. We've reached out to Apple for comment and will update this article if we hear back.

Update: Apple spokesperson Shane Bauer told The Verge that though the CSAM detection feature is no longer mentioned on its website, plans for CSAM detection have not changed since September, which means CSAM detection is still coming in the future.

"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 in September.

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 18 on iPhone Feature

Everything New in iOS 18 Beta 3

Monday July 8, 2024 12:54 pm PDT by
With the third betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 that Apple released today, there are additional tweaks to a number of features like Dark Mode icons, the Photos app, emoji in Messages, and more, with Apple appearing to be preparing for the launch of Apple Intelligence. Apple will continue updating iOS 18‌ over the course of the next couple of months, refining the beta prior to its launch....
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

iPhone 16 Models Rumored to Have Face ID-Related Design Changes

Tuesday July 9, 2024 9:15 am PDT by
iPhone 16 models coming later this year could have some Face ID-related "design changes," supply chain publication DigiTimes said this week. The original source of this information is British newspaper The Telegraph, which six weeks ago reported that Face ID component supplier Coherent was considering selling or repurposing a manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, a small town in...
iPhone 17 Plus Feature

iPhone 17 'Slim': Everything We Know So Far

Friday July 5, 2024 5:13 am PDT by
In 2025, Apple is expected to discontinue the iPhone "Plus" device in its iPhone 17 lineup to make way for an iPhone "Slim" – although it may not actually be called this when it debuts in the fall of next year. Even though the iPhone 16 series launch is still over two months away, when you consider that we learned about larger displays on the iPhone 16 Pro models way back in May 2023, rumors...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Beta Firmware With Support for iOS 18 Features

Tuesday July 9, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released a second beta firmware for the AirPods Pro 2, including both the Lightning and USB-C versions. The updated firmware has a build number 7A5244b and it is available to developers at the current time. This is the second firmware update that Apple has released since announcing new AirPods Pro 2 features in June. There are several new features that are coming to the AirPods...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

iOS 18 Public Beta Coming Soon: How to Get Your iPhone Ready

Tuesday July 9, 2024 6:30 am PDT by
Apple last month announced that the first public beta of iOS 18 would be released in July, so it should be available to try out soon. Below, we outline everything you need to know about the upcoming iOS 18 public beta. Timing The first iOS 17 and iOS 16 public betas came out in the first half of July in the past two years. iOS 16: Monday, July 11, 2022 iOS 17: Wednesday, July 12, 2023 ...

Top Rated Comments

Jim Lahey Avatar
34 months ago
If I ever find out this has been surreptitiously added without my knowledge then I will sell every Apple device I own and never buy another. Anyone who doesn’t have an issue with this has no clue of the concept of mission creep. If these systems are allowed to exist then it’s only a matter of time before the Feds batter your door in for having a [insert future dictator here] meme in your iCloud library. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
entropys Avatar
34 months ago
Good too much potential for abuse (and I am not saying that ironically).
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DaveFlash Avatar
34 months ago
better, this was bound to fail at the start, you'd only need one bad actor feeding apple's system wrong hashes and everyone is a potential suspect for whatever governmental purpose that bad actor wants to silence, like criticism, dissent, protestors in Hong Kong, LGBT minorities in certain regions you name it. Also, as an EU citizen, I'm glad, as this system Apple proposed, wouldn't have been allowed here anyway because of the strong protections in our GDPR privacy laws.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DMG35 Avatar
34 months ago
This was a mess from the beginning and pulling it was the only logical thing to do.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Solomani Avatar
34 months ago
Good. It is only right that Apple should listen to its userbase.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Agit21 Avatar
34 months ago
Im still not going to activate iMessage again or iCloud backup for pictures. Thank you Tim.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)