Looking back at 2022: a year in review
By Matt Burns
In 2021, Apple launched details of its new proposed CSAM scanning features, designed to scan photos stored in a user’s iCloud drive for child sexual exploitation material.
However, met with large backlash from digital rights advocacy groups that feared the implications of this, Apple announced just months later that they would be pausing the rollout to focus on collecting additional information.
Now, more than a year later, Apple announced that it would instead be focusing on other ‘communication safety features’. While this wasn’t an unexpected outcome, it does mark a lost opportunity to better tackle the threat of CSAM.
We believe in praising every change that technology companies want to implement to tackle CSAM. Let’s not get distracted with whether they’re doing too much or too little, first we should applaud them doing something. Each update brings additional challenges for offenders to overcome, helping investigators in their efforts to identify those responsible, as well as those in need of safeguarding.
Apple, Google, Pinterest, TikTok, and others have all committed to introducing greater protection tools against the threat of CSAM. TikTok’s safety centre features guidance and advice, and Google’s child safety site shares an array of information, tools, and other resources.
While these updates already show promise for the future of the fight against CSAM, praising future updates can encourage these companies to act on these commitments while encouraging others to do the same.
Currently, when a technology company decides that they want to increase their CSAM tools, any fears surrounding public backlash – as Apple themselves experienced – may discourage them from committing to these changes. This unfortunately sets a poor example.
We want to praise these companies for even trying – applauding even the most minor changes to encourage others to follow suit.
By congratulating tech companies on the small changes that they do announce, we can help raise awareness of the core issue at hand, highlight the hazards associated with the online spread of CSAM, and encourage others to understand that additional tools are needed. In the future, this can help ease further implementations.
Another reason we never underestimate the small things is that they can act as a stepping-stone to larger actions.
Praising these implementations encourages a stepping-stone approach to larger implementations.
Often, by praising these smaller implementations and directly communicating with them, we can guide enterprises to put additional projects in place – discussing what additional tools would be most effective, and encouraging them to take the next steps forward. With more and more companies doing this, we can help make a significant difference in the fight against online CSAM.
One of the great things about this initiative is that we don’t have to wait for the latest developments to be announced to put it into practice. By proactively showcasing the efforts already taking place, we can start raising awareness of the threat and building momentum for more change without waiting for the next tools.
We’re on a mission to centralise online imaging intelligence and empower investigators in their efforts to identify both victims and those responsible.
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