Children and parents use the internet as an essential part of family, social, and scholastic life, and it’s important to protect their safety and privacy, and stop child sexual abuse.
But what happens when every one of the pictures you send of your newborn is automatically searched, matched, and reported to authorities because it contains a picture of an infant?
What happens to youngsters who send photos of themselves and their friends to each other to memorialize a day at the beach. Photos of children in swimsuits scanned, identified, and reported for investigation as child pornography?
Teenagers texting intimate images — with consent — and being reported, investigated, and charged as sex offenders all because an algorithm proactively searching for child pornography didn’t distinguish between images and videos that are perfectly normal and legitimate and those that aren’t.
The privacy and safety of a young person communicating with a counselor over encrypted channels to report sexual abuse would be undermined by generalized monitoring that has to break encryption to find offensive content.
It’s up to adults to protect the privacy of all young and vulnerable people — not endanger children by undermining their normal communications — and that also means protecting them from adults’ misguided and privacy-invasive efforts.
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