Earlier this month, Apple revealed its plans to deploy new technology within iOS, macOS, watchOS, and iMessage that will help detect any potential child sexual abuse material (CSAM). For devices in the United States, new versions of iOS and iPadOS will contain new applications of cryptography that will help limit the spread of child sexual abuse material online.
The first feature is titled “communication safety”, and enables on-device machine learning to identify and blur sexually explicit images received by children in the Messages app and also has the ability to notify a parent if a child age 12 and younger decides to view or send a sexually explicit image.
The second feature detects known child sexual abuse material by scanning users’ images if they choose to upload them to iCloud. Throughout the years, Apple has implemented hash systems to scan for CSAM sent over email; with the newer versions, these same hash systems will be used to apply the same scans to user images stored in iCloud Photos, even if the images are never sent to another user or shared otherwise.
While Apple’s intentions seem beneficial in preventing the spread of child sexual abuse material, some digital privacy groups and campaigners are concerned that the company’s new anti-child abuse measures can be used by authoritarian governments as surveillance tools. According to the groups and campaigners, the new features can introduce a back door into Apple’s software that authoritarian governments can take advantage of to scan for different types of material that go beyond child sexual abuse material.
Apple has addressed these concerns by stating that the technology is only limited to detecting CSAM stored in iCloud, and the company has no plans to acquiesce to any requests by any governments to expand it. Whatever happens with the company in the future, these new features can help parents in filing a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse.
What are the benefits of filing a civil lawsuit for child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse is a crime that needs to be punished to the fullest extent of the law; with a civil lawsuit, there are many factors that increase the likelihood of your child receiving justice for any abuse from which he or she has suffered. A civil suit is separate from any criminal charges or trial.
Prosecution of the perpetrator
In a criminal law trial, the perpetrator is usually prosecuted by the state, and faces conviction, potential incarceration and other penalties. One of those penalties, however, does not involve monetary compensation for the child or the child’s family. In a civil lawsuit, the victim and victim’s family have the ability to sue the perpetrator for damages.
Differences in burden of proof
In a criminal trial, the prosecution has the duty of proving “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the defendant is guilty of child sexual abuse. In a civil lawsuit, however, the burden of proof is not as concrete; instead, the plaintiff has the duty to show that the defendant “more likely than not” committed the sexual abuse. This means that a jury does not have to be as certain about the defendant’s guilt as they would have to be in a criminal trial to find the defendant liable. However, certain factors, such as whether the defendant was found guilty of similar acts in a criminal trial, can help the plaintiff to win the lawsuit.
Multiple causes of action
Because there is no specific cause of action for child sexual abuse, the plaintiff can sue under a number of different causes of action in a personal injury lawsuit. The same facts that established the defendant’s guilt in a criminal trial can make a defendant liable for multiple causes of action. Some of the most common causes of action that help fit the facts in a child sexual abuse case are assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. Although a defendant can be found liable under multiple causes of action, it does not automatically mean that a plaintiff will receive a greater compensation in money damages; it does mean, however, that the plaintiff has a stronger chance of winning the case.
Another benefit of civil lawsuits is that additional parties can be held liable for the sexual abuse the child endured. If a child experienced sexual abuse around a school, church, place of business, or other organization, that institution can be held liable. Certain states contain a specific civil law statute that explains a specific institution’s legal obligations when it comes to identifying and preventing abuse of minors or any other misconduct by employees. Therefore, when a child has been sexually abused, and the harm inflicted results in the type of harm that the statute is trying to prevent, the institution is legally in violation of that statute.
In addition to the legal statutes, institutions have a legal duty to protect certain members of society such as children and teenagers. Institutions can be held liable based on the act of negligence – failing to protect the child who has been sexually harassed. If school faculty failed to properly monitor an employee who then committed sexual abuse against one of the students, for example, the school can be found liable under the charge of “negligent supervision.”