Apple on Monday unveiled a new feature coming to iOS 16 designed chiefly to help people sever ties with their abusive partners who may tracking their locations or secretly reading their messages.
“Many people share passwords and access to their devices with their partner; however, in abusive relationships, this can threaten personal safety and make it harder for victims to get help,” Katie Skinner, a privacy engineering manager at Apple, said during its keynote presentation at the 2022 World Wide Developer Conference, better known as WWDC.
This new feature, dubbed Safety Check, will allow users to quickly halt location information sharing via Find My and reset an iPhone’s privacy settings in the press of a few buttons. Activating Safety Check further helps safeguard users by signing them out on all other devices and restricting access to FaceTime and iMessage.
The feature will also help users interested in auditing the permissions they’ve granted to a range of apps, as well as manage the types of access granted to other people.
“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,” Skinner said.
Safety Check is the best thing Apple has done for iOS in a long time. #WWDC22
— Andrew (@AndrewCrow) June 6, 2022
Intimate partner violence is prevalent in the United States. According to the CDC, as many as 1-in-3 women and 1-in-4 men will experience a form of abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime, ranging from stalking to physical violence and rape. This equates to roughly 10 million women and men each year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Apple said Safety Check is the culmination of discussions with several similar organisations that support victims of domestic abuse, including the National Centre for Victims of Crime (NCVC), the Women’s Services Network, and the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
“In times of crisis, for many survivors, it’s important to know who has their information and location. Safety Check helps give control back to survivors,” the NCVC said.