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8 Dec, 2022
2 min time to read

Apple drops support of expanded protections for children and adding end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups.

The Messages app in iOS 15.2 and newer include tools to warn children when receiving or sending photos that contain explicit content such as nudity. The features can be enabled by parents in their Family sharing plan.

Internal testing and amid criticism of the system’s algorithm resulted in the decision to suspend the feature. Photo scanning and CSAM detection systems were perceived by users as a threat to data security.

As WSJ reports, Apple abandoned plans for client-side scanning of iCloud Photos to detect imagery of abuse and now focused on end-to-end encryption and other ways to protect children. The occasion is particularly out of the ordinary. There are hardly ever any cases of Apple having second thoughts or admitting mistakes and failures.

The company is deciding to expand end-to-end encryption as part of 'Advanced Data Protection', according to press-release on its website. It will include phone backups, messages backups, iCloud Drive, Notes, Photos, Reminders, Safari bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts, Voice Memos and Wallet Passes. Apple says the only "major" caterogies not covered are iCloud Mail, Contacts and Calendar because of global email, contacts and calendar systems need to interoperate.

At past, Apple holded the encryption keys for things that aren't end-to-end encrypted, which means the company can help users recover that data if needed. End-to-end encrypted data can only be encrypted on trusted devices where users signed in with Apple ID. It means that the company – or law enforcement or hackers – can't access any data from Apple.

Users on Apple's beta program in the US will be able to enable Advanced Data Protection feature starting Wednesday, Apple says. It will be able broadly to all US users by the end of the year and will begin rolling out globally in early 2023, including in China.