TECH BYTE: Apple Software to Help Catch Child Predators

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Apple’s latest iOS software update can help track down child predators.

Apple is joining Microsoft, Google, and Facebook in the race to catch them.

“Anything along our East Coast, that goes through this area, is high risk for trafficking,” said Ryan Dunlap, Street Grace.

Starting later this year, updates to iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, and macOS Monterey will allow the tech giant to scan photos stored on its devices, and compare them to illegal images.

If Apple finds a certain number of matches, the user will be reported for child abuse.

“It empowers communities to become more aware of what’s happening in and around them, and generally speaking, it is going to allow us to let the offenders know that they are on notice, that people are paying attention, and that organizations like Apple, and organizations like Street Grace are dedicated to making sure that they can’t harm the kids in our community,” said Dunlap, who’s also a former law enforcement investigator.

The changes also include updates to Siri and Search, which will provide parents and kids more information, and help if they get in an unsafe situation.

Siri and Search can also step in if users try to search topics related to child sexual abuse.

Dunlap says these features are a good move for Apple.

“To see Apple taking such a proactive approach to going after exploitation, with how they are going to limit the exchange and distribution of child exploitation abuse materials across their platforms is incredibly encouraging.”

Apple says this software update also features new tools to warn kids and their parents when receiving or sending sexually explicit photos.

The photo will be blurred, and the child will be warned. If they do view the picture, their parents will get a message.

Dunlap says parents need to be mindful of who their kids are talking to.

Explicit photos are not just stored on phones, but they can easily be shared on other apps.

“The first thing is to pay attention to their online friend groups,” Dunlap said. “The next one is to look for unusual behavior, and three is to monitor their online use.”

Apple actually has a Frequently Asked Questions section on its website for parents about this update. Just go to apple.com/child-safety.

Categories: Local News, Tech Byte, Technology