Apple Implements Feature to Blur Nudity, Protect Children

Photo by Laurenz Heymann via Unsplash

Apple Implements Feature to Blur Nudity, Protect Children

By Movieguide® Contributor

National Center on Child Exploitation (NCOSE) praised Apple for implementing a nudity detection and blurring feature which will be on by default for accounts of users aged 12 and under. 

“This is a major step in child protection by Apple and a victory for families. In partnership with our ally Protect Young Eyes, NCOSE has been calling on Apple for years to proactively turn on all child safety features as the default. We are grateful to Apple for enacting this change that will protect children from nudity, sexually explicit images, and pornographic content that can be harmful to minors in and of itself, but that is also used to groom children for sexual abuse,” Vice President of NCOSE and Director of Corporate Advocacy, Lina Nealon, said. 

This update is significant in protecting children from predators as they often send sexually explicit images to children as a way to groom them before asking for nude images in return. Once these compromising images are received, predators use them as leverage for sexortation, to obtain money, additional images or other demands. 

While not turned on by default for those older than 12, the blurring feature will be available for any iPhone user to opt-into. NCOSE hopes that this feature will eventually be turned on by default for all users, especially as more older teens and adults are falling victim to sexortation, image-based sexual abuse, and cyberflashing. 

Apple has also made the technology available to other developers. Popular messaging site Discord has said that they plan on implementing the technology onto their platform. 

“We urge all companies – especially those most popular with teens like Snapchat and TikTok – to integrate this child safety measure for free through API. Apple has set an industry standard and in effect has issued an invitation to their tech peers to join them: we trust other companies will prove they truly care about protecting their most vulnerable users by accepting Apple’s offer,” Nealson said. 

Movieguide® previously reported on industry changes to stop sexual exploitation: 

Bumble and TikTok joined Twitter and Facebook in an industry partnership to stop to spread of nonconsensual sexual or sexualized material. This includes sharing child sexual abuse, rape, sex trafficking, and prostitution as well as videos made by hidden cameras, deepfake images, or leaked photos.  

“We are thankful that Bumble and TikTok are joining efforts led by StopNCII.org to confront the growing epidemic of image-based sexual abuse, which can victimize anyone in an instant and cause lifelong trauma,” Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the NCOSE said

There are currently no federal laws that require companies to remove sexual material that was uploaded without consent. It is up to the company and its own policies as to whether they will remove this type of content, and oftentimes the victims of virtual sexual abuse are ignored when they ask to have their images removed. 

“We are hopeful that when tech leaders work together, that image-based sexual abuse will be stopped. More must be done, and Congress should prioritize passing the PROTECT Act, which would ensure that federal law protects victims of image-based sexual abuse from websites monetizing and distributing their abuse,” Hawkins said. 

According to the NCOSE, a 2017 survey conducted on Facebook found that of the 3,044 participants, 1 in 8 had been targets of the distribution, or threat of distribution, of sexually graphic images without their consent. The study also found that women were 1.7 times more likely to be targeted than men. 

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