MacRumors reports that iOS 15.2 beta now includes an Apple Communication Safety feature in the Messages app. This opt-in feature scans incoming and outgoing photos for sexually explicit material. It is intended to protect children against inappropriate imagery. Any images that meet this description will be blurred and the child will receive a warning about their contents and be told it's okay not to view them. This feature is linked to Apple's Family Sharing system and offers resources for children who are affected to help them get help.
Apple's iOS 15.2 beta version has one important difference to the August announcement: It won't notify parents if a child views a sexually explicit picture. Kendra Albert, a Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor, was critical of this feature because it could expose transgender or queer children to their parents. MacRumors notes that the original version of this feature could have created safety concerns for parents who are violent or abusive.
CNET reports that children will have the option of alerting someone they trust about flagged photos. This choice is independent of the decision to unblur or view the image. These checks are done on the device and don't affect end-to-end encryption.
In August, the Communication Safety feature was announced as part of a trio designed to protect children against sexual abuse. The company stated that it would delay the release of the features for the month following objections from privacy advocates.
Communication Safety is different from the CSAM detection (child sexual abuse imagery detector) feature. This scans a user’s iCloud Photos, reports any offensive content to Apple moderators and generates the majority of privacy advocates' outcry. Siri search will also get an update that provides resources to users who search for child sexual abuse topics. These two features are not yet planned for release and have not been reported to Apple's beta software.
It is worth noting that iOS 15.2's most recent beta may change significantly before it's official release. This could lead to the update being removed entirely. The latest beta also includes a manual AirTag scanning function and the ability to transfer your iCloud data on to a loved one in case of your death.