Apple delays plans to scan iPhones for child sexual abuse material

  • Apple has delayed plans to roll out detection technology which would have scanned US users’ iPhones in search of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), this was originally due to launch later this year.
  • The NeuralHash technology would have scanned images before they were uploaded to iCloud Photos.
  • The images would have been matched against known CSAM on a database maintained by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • This follows widespread criticism from privacy groups worried that the on-device tracking could be expanded beyond CSAM used by authoritarian states.
  • Criticism for the CSAM scanning update included a petition by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation amassing 25,000 signatures.
  • Full story, here.

Misinformation on Facebook gets way more engagement than news, according to study

  • A new peer-reviewed study by New York University and the Université Grenoble Alpes in France shows misinformation got six times more engagement on Facebook than conventional
  • The study is to be released as part of the 2021 Internet Measurement Conference in November and focused on 2,500 news publisher pages on Facebook between August 2020 and January 2021.
  • Findings showed that pages that post more misinformation regularly got more likes, shares, and comments.
  • The increased engagement on misinformation posts was seen across the political spectrum but it was found that right-wing leaning publishers were more likely to share misleading information.
  • Facebook has criticised the study for focusing on engagement rather than “reach” but has not made data available to researchers to help quantify and understand the “reach” of misinformation.
  • Check out our blog on the spread of misinformation, here.
  • Full story, here.

Reports of sex abuse between children double in two years

  • Reports of children sexually abusing other children doubled in the two years up to 2019, according to police figures obtained by BBC Panorama.
  • The BBC Panorama programme followed up research from 2017 where police reported almost 8,000 reports of abuse among under-18s in England and Wales.
  • Thirty-four out of 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to Freedom of Information requests on data on the number of sexual offences reports where the alleged perpetrator and victim were under 18.
  • Yearly reports since 2017 rose to between 15,000 and 16,000, but cases fell in 2020-21 during the pandemic.
  • In about 10% of reported cases, the alleged abuser was aged 10-years-old or under.
  • The latest full year of data between 2020-21 shows that 10,861 reports of abuse have been made despite the months of lockdown and school closures.
  • Full story, here.

Online child grooming crimes reach all-time high

  • The number of online grooming crimes recorded by police in Northern Ireland has reached an all-time high, according to figures from the NSPCC.
  • Figures show 5,441 offences, involving sexual communication with a child, between April 2020 and March 2021, which constitutes a 70% increase from recorded crimes in 2017/2018.
  • Almost half of these offences involved Facebook owned apps (including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger) and Snapchat being used in over a quarter.
  • This follows an end to the 12-month grace period given to online platforms to implement the age-appropriate design code and the draft release of the Online Safety bill in May.
  • The NSPCC is calling for the government to prioritise child online safety and for the full implementation of the Online Safety Strategy and Action plan in Northern Ireland.
  • Full story, here.