Apple rolls out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries

Feb 21, 2023

Earlier this month, Apple outlined some ways to help protect children from harmful online content. Communication Safety was among those features that were highlighted on Safer Internet Day.

Apple rolls out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries

The option, which was introduced in the U.S. last year, was rolled out to 8 more regions: Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the U.K.

Apple rolls out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries

Dutch blog iCulture attended an Apple briefing recently, where the Cupertino company announced that it is expanding Communication Safety to 6 more countries: Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Japan, South Korea and Brazil.

The child safety feature is available in the Messages app for iPhone and iPad (iOS/iPadOS 15.2 or later), Apple Watch (watchOS 9 or later) and Mac devices (macOS Monterey 12.1 or above). Official support pages for the feature are already live in the regions, but I could only find them in the English language. Localized versions of the web page should be available in the future.

Image credit: Apple

What is Communication Safety in Messages?

The Messages app on iPhone, iPad or Mac has the ability to scan images that are sent or received by the device, to check if the attachments contain nudity. This action would require permission from the user, which is why Communication Safety is not enabled by default. It requires Parental Controls and Screen Time to be enabled. Apple states that this is a privacy-friendly feature, and that Messages does not send the media to its servers, the app uses on-device machine learning to analyze the images for nudity.

How does it work?

If a child receives or sends a photo that contains nudity, the app's scanning algorithm kicks in as a safety layer. When the Messages app detects that an image contains pornography, it will blur the image and display a notice on the screen to warn the child that the media could be harmful to view, and offers them an option to not view the picture. The kid can then choose to block the contact, leave the chat. More importantly, the app also gives an easy way to contact a trusted grown-up, such as their parent or guardian, to alert them about the issue.

How to enable Communication Safety on iPhone or iPad

1. Open the Settings app and go to Screen time on your iPhone, iPad or Mac.

2. Enable Screen Time if you haven't done so already.

3. Select the name of the child in your family group.

4. Tap on Communication Safety, and then on Continue.

5. Toggle the option that is labeled "Check for Sensitive Photos".

Note: The Improve Communication Safety option sends analytics and usage data to Apple, though none of the messages and media are shared with the company. This is optional and can be disabled.

Apple originally wanted to run scans on iCloud Drive storage to check images for child sexual abuse material (CSAM), but this move was seen as a privacy nightmare by security experts and users. The Cupertino company then dropped the idea, to focus on Communication Safety instead.

I think Communication Safety is an excellent option to have, to protect children from inappropriate content. What about you?

Apple rolls out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries
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Apple rolls out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries
Apple is rolling out Communication Safety in Messages to 6 more Countries. We show you how to enable the child safety feature on your iPhone, iPad and Mac.
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