What The Tech: Safety Check

 

CHARLOTTE, NC — Smartphones make it easy for people to stay in touch and even keep track of loved ones. Many times, spouses will and family members will use the same Apple ID. That’s fine for many people but when a relationship turns sour, a smartphone can easily allow an ex-partner to stalk, threaten, and harass their former partner.

Apple is making it easier for people at risk of domestic assaults to cut ties with a former partner or spouse.

Coming in iOS 16 is Apple’s new tool called Safety Check. After you upgrade to the new operating system you’ll find it in settings under privacy and security.

There are two options. One is an emergency reset. This is for people who need to immediately stop someone from tracking them. With a couple of taps on the screen, it blocks everyone you’ve given permission to see your location and/or apps you have on your phone to gather information. It also resets emergency contacts and prompts you to set up a new device passcode.

The other option allows a user to manage sharing and access. You’ll be given the opportunity to choose who to block and which apps you no longer want on your phone gathering data and information to share.

Abusers have been known to use “stalkerware”, apps that you may not know are sharing your location, usernames passwords, and access to text messages, photos, calendars, and smart home devices.

Once in Safety Check, you’ll see a list of every app on the device along with what information it shares and what data it has access to. If you suspect someone is following or stalking you or that someone has installed an app without your permission, you can delete any apps you don’t recognize and delete any data it’s gathered.

Safety Check will also show you all of the devices you’re logged into with your Apple ID. This can be your ID or one you share with someone else. You’ll see a list of computers, smartphones, iPads, TVs, and any smart home devices that anyone with your Apple ID and password can control or access.

Another option is to delete any or all emergency contacts and add new ones, and an easy way to change your device’s passcode.

Apple also added a safety tool that can protect you if you feel you are in danger because the person you want to block is in the same room or is looking over your shoulder. A “Quick Exit” button will immediately send you back to the home screen.

You can also see all of the devices you’re logged in to. Phones, Ipads, computers, TVs. Revoke access to any you don’t recognize. This lets you delete emergency contacts and change your passcode.

You won’t be able to use Safety Check until you upgrade to iOS 16 which will be available to everyone on September 12th.