A company in Japan is developing a smartphone app that would delete children’s nude photos automatically from their phone. The app is being developed as a way to prevent the sexual exploitation of children and minors
It’s currently in beta testing, and was developed through a collaboration between Smartbooks Inc., Fujita Health University in the Aichi Prefecture, and the prefecture’s local Nakamura station situated in Nagoya.
“The relationship between children and social media is extremely entwined. We would like to use this app to prevent sexual abuse,” The deputy manager at Nakamura police department’s community safety division, Nobuhiro Suzuki, told Japan Today.
The app, which does not have a name yet but has been referred to as ‘Kodomamo’ (a combination of the words “child” and “protect’’ in Japanese), uses AI technology to recognise revealing photos.
Once downloaded onto a phone, ‘Kodomamo’ will scan each photo to detect any nudes, and also spot any photos of lower abdomens, chests, and bare genitals. If found, the image would be deleted and a warning notification would be sent to the child’s guardian informing them of the picture. Another feature that would require a guardian’s permission to delete the app is also in development.
Naoto Tomita, the co-founder of Smartbooks, told Vice that the app could be a safeguard in preventing minors from sending compromising images. “We’ve had parents tell us that they’re hesitant to buy their children smartphones because of the crimes they could be susceptible to on the internet, so they want these apps as soon as possible,” Tomita said.
Vice is also reporting that in 2021, police data from Japan found that 1,811 children were victims of crimes committed on social, and a third of these cases violated Japan’s child pornography laws, the law includes children taking naked photos of themselves.
One problem the app’s collaborators are now facing is how to encourage people to download the app. At a workshop with 70 students at Fujita Health University, suggestions ranged from giving students discounts to download it to having the app pre-installed on phones.
Tomita said that his goal is for every child to download the app to protect themselves. The app is expected to be ready and available for children and guardians alike to download by the end of 2022.