TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — New privacy features to protect domestic abuse and intimate partner violence victims were announced Monday at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference for the next version of its mobile phone and tablet operating system.
Safety Check will be a new feature of Apple’s iOS 16. With the safety tool, users will be able to check who is able to access messages, reset privacy permissions and stop sharing location to select viewers. The feature also lets iPhone users choose who can see what.
According to speakers at the company event, Safety Check will make safety a priority through privacy. They said at the event that it would build on steps already taken by the company.
“Many people share passwords and access to their devices with their partner,” Katie Skinner, Manager of User Privacy Software, at Apple said. “However, in abusive relationships, this can threaten personal safety and make it harder for victims to get help.”
Skinner said Apple was working with organizations who support domestic abuse and intimate partner violence victims to develop the new safety features for iOS 16. The feature was developed after “discussion” with multiple organizations, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and The Women’s Services Network.
“You can quickly review and reset the access you’ve granted others,” using Safety Check, according to Skinner. “This lets people in abusive situations quickly revoke an abuser’s access to their data and location, enabling them to cut ties and get to safety.”
The new setting lets users sign out of all other devices they’re logged into with their Apple accounts. It restricts use of FaceTime and messages to the device in-hand, giving users a shield against someone else accessing messages. Safety Check also stops sharing location with others using the FindMy app, such as the one used to locate a missing phone or iPad.
It also lets Apple users manage and adjust who has permission to access their data across different applications, and reset the settings, if necessary. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, said protecting user privacy “is and will always be at the center” of what Apple does.