Apple (AAPL) - Get Free Report is modifying its anti-sexting tool to protect child iPhone users from nude images in a feature that will notify underage users before they send or open a text message with nude photos.
But the company now says the tool will not also notify the child's parents about explicit images. The decision has been met with mixed response from child safety and privacy advocates.
“They should have kept parental notifications for kids under 13. There’s no reason we should ask an 11-year-old to keep herself safe online," the Wall Street Journal quoted Stephen Balkam, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Family Online Safety Institute, as saying in a published report.
The new feature, which is expected to roll out this month in iOS 15.2, is in response to an increase in sexually explicit activity among pre-teens using mobile devices.
The Journal cites a recent report from technology nonprofit Thorn that reveals that 14% of 9- to 12-year-olds surveyed said they shared sexually explicit images of themselves last year. That was up from 6% a year earlier.
The survey polled 1,000 kids ages 9 to 17 in both 2020 and 2019. In 2020, 21% of the 9- to 12-year-olds surveyed said that it is normal for kids their age to share nudes, up from 13% the year before.
However, some advocates see a problem with notifying parents of their kids activities.
“The idea of notifying parents of kids under 13 operates with the assumption that there’s a relationship with the child that is safe,” said Elissa Redmiles, a privacy scholar and faculty member at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems told the Journal.