CUPERTINO, Calif. , Sept. 12, 2023 /PRNewswire/ –An airplane is flying over Apple headquarters today with a simple banner message: “Dear Apple, Detect Child Sexual Abuse in iCloud.”
Timed with the unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone, the Heat Initiative is flying the plane to pressure Apple to detect and remove images and videos of child sexual abuse on iCloud.
The campaign is also running a full-page advertisement in today’s The New York Times and driving a mobile billboard around Apple headquarters in Cupertino with the message:
“The day the world’s most valuable company launches its new products, we’re drawing attention to the fact that they are not doing the basics when it comes to detecting child sexual abuse,” said Sarah Gardner, the founder of the Heat Initiative. “Through their inaction, Apple’s leadership is turning a blind eye to the safety of our children, and allowing for kids to be victimized and revictimized endlessly.”
Recent news reports in the New York Times, Forbes, and Wired have shed new light on the company’s glaring shortcomings on child safety.
The Heat Initiative is demanding Apple:
- Detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse images and videos from iCloud
- Create a robust mechanism for users to flag and report such content to Apple
- According to the New York Times, Apple made just 160 reports in 2021 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, while Google made 875,783 reports and Facebook made 22 million.
- In August 2021, Apple announced a plan to detect child sexual abuse images and videos with company leadership expressing strong support for the initiative.
- By December 2022, Apple quietly abandoned the plan ” leaving children vulnerable to this abhorrent abuse.
- Polling shows 90% of Americans believe Apple should detect, report, and remove child sexual abuse images and videos.
There are hundreds of documented cases of child sexual abuse spread on Apple devices, emphasizing the critical need for prompt action. Examples include:
- A man in Washington State was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in federal prison in 2023 after his fiance found an iPad containing naked images of children, including her 7-year-old daughter. Law enforcement searched the iPad and its associated iCloud account, where they found explicit images and videos of that same child starting when she was four years old.
- A 20-year-old former college football player in San Diego was arrested and charged with one count of felony possession of child pornography after investigators found 38 videos on his iCloud account depicting child sexual abuse material. Seven of the videos had previously been identified as child pornography and may have been detected if Apple had enacted the changes it announced in August of 2021.
- A 58-year-old Bay Area doctor was charged in 2021 with possessing child pornography after investigators found at least 2,000 sexually exploitative images and videos of children stored in his iCloud account.
- A 55-year old former Border Patrol Agent was sentenced in 2020 to 80 months in prison for distributing, receiving and possessing child pornography. Forensic analysis revealed that at the time of arrest he possessed on his iPod and iCloud hundreds of images and videos depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
- A 49-year-old was charged with three counts of possession of child pornography in 2020. Investigators discovered a file containing explicit images of a child under the age of 5 on the man’s iCloud account.
Learn more at: ProtectChildrenNotAbuse.org.
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SOURCE Heat Initiative