After complications with various bugs and Air Tags that could lead to privacy breaches, Apple is attempting to revamp its protection policies. Now, the tech company is revealing a new feature to help protect users’ privacy. This feature is called Safety Check and is available for all iPhone and iPad products. The unique setting that will be operable in fall 2022 is intended to help domestic abuse victims.
Safety Check has a few functions to help assess one’s privacy. The first applicable setting is to see who you’re sharing your location, photos, and other information with immediately. Currently, you can only know who you’re sharing your location with if you go to the specific person’s contact. With Safety Check, you’ll be able to see instantly who has access to your personal information. The second notable setting allows users to remove access to other unwanted devices instantly. It’s a helpful function that gives users more control over who they’re sharing their information with.
Apple wants to ensure that those in life-threatening situations can use Safety Check without fear. The function includes Quick Exit, a button at the top of the screen that rapidly exits out of the program. Then when the Settings page is reopened, where Safety Check is located, the general homepage for Settings will pop up first. This could aid in covering up a person’s Safety Check usage in case an unwanted someone is snooping on their device.
Katie Skinner, a privacy engineering manager, discussed how Safety Check could help potential abuse victims. She noted that it’s common for people to share photos, passwords, and locations with a partner’s device. But this practice can severely threaten people’s safety in “abusive relationships,” Skinner stated, galvanizing Apple to install a function that sneakily detracts private information once previously shared. The effort could help those in precarious situations which need immediate relief from partner surveillance.
Apple isn’t the only tech company applying new measures to help the privacy of its loyal consumer base. Other tech corporations are more readily installing privacy measures to alleviate potential domestic abuse victims. Though companies like Facebook and Google have implemented functions to detect child abuse imagery, conquering privacy issues hasn’t been at the forefront of their advancements. Media outlets like Facebook have been criticized for their purposeful release of people’s private information, which has led the company to the Supreme Court.
As other companies slowly enact better privacy protection policies, the rate of domestic abuse has unfortunately been growing. In a study conducted in 2020, 99% of clients from various practitioners experienced some sort of abuse facilitated by technology, including stalking and surveillance. The study also found that predators using GPS tracking of victims grew by 244% since the last recorded study in 2015.
Because of these alarming statistics, Apple has implemented new technology to aid victims in the modern age of accessible information and surveillance. The company has worked with numerous domestic abuse organizations to understand further how perpetrators can misuse Apple technology. The culmination of valuable user insight has led to the unveiling of upcoming functions like Safety Check.