Apple’s shareholder, Jeff McCory, a successful money manager at Christian Brother Investment Services is pressuring the company to do more to stop the spread of Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) in videos as well. He is also pressing AT&T Inc and Verizon Communication to take strong measures to bock child pornography.
Bloomberg reports that in 2019 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) reported for the first time that videos containing CSAM bypassed detection barriers set for flagging still images and remain nearly half of 65 million images identified in 2020.
After receiving a lot of heat from privacy and cryptography experts, Apple announced that the delay of its new Expanded Protections for Children which included the controversial CSAM detection feature to contain the spread of known CSAM by using a NeuralHash system. The new feature will introduce a new scanning system on Apple devices, compatible with the latest iOS 15 and other updates, that will fingerprint photos for known CSAM as they are uploaded on iCloud and save flagged images as safety vouchers on the cloud. Punitive actions will be taken against accounts that surpass the 30 images threshold. However, McCroy is disappointed by Apple’s decision to delay the new child safety features.
Investor says Apple is putting more children at risk of exposure and harm by delaying the CSAM detection feature
NCMEC’s general counsel, Yiota Souras reports that out of 5 million known CSAM images, 500,000 are videos and since 2019, the number of known CSAM images has increased by more than 200%, and “videos are making up an increasing share of new complaints”. Therefore, as an advocate of child protection, McCroy says that tech companies must take up strong measures against CSAM spread (images and videos).
“It’s disappointing to learn that Apple is delaying their efforts for change. The longer it takes for action, the more children that are at risk of exposure and harm.
“The technology sector as a whole has been slow to address this important issue,’’ McCroy said in an interview. Abusive imagery in videos has the potential to spread rapidly across the internet, so companies should share artificial intelligence technologies and other tools with one another to help address the issue, he said.
As per the report, McCroy wants other investors to build pressure on tech companies to ensure the protection of young children.
McCroy said investors should look beyond technology companies to the finance, toy and gaming industries as well as domain providers to press firms on child pornography prevention. With a new proxy season approaching, he said he’s hoping even more investors will take the opportunity to encourage companies to do more.
McCroy said his firm, which manages $10.7 billion from Chicago, is currently reviewing whether Apple and other companies, including AT&T and Verizon, are taking sufficient steps to combat the spread of child abuse content on videos. CBIS, which has been targeting Apple since 2016 and has engaged with the telecom companies more recently, plans to work with them to identify specific actions they can take to mitigate the problem, McCroy said.
Other investors are pressing on Apple to revise its Rights To Repair policy for environmental reasons.