For domestic and intimate partner violence victims, device tracking can be dangerous. “Safety Check” could help.
Among the most troubling outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic was the global rise in domestic violence, which increased by as much as 33 percent in 2020, per The American Journal of Emergency Medicine. Today, Apple announced a new feature for iOS 16 that could potentially protect its users from domestic abuse.
The feature, called Safety Check, will be available for anyone with an iPhone 8 and later starting this fall and will let users know who has their passwords, per The Verge. According to the company, its Safety Check feature is intended to “be helpful to users whose personal safety is at risk from domestic or intimate partner violence by quickly removing all access they’ve granted to others” on apps like Find My Phone and others that make it easy to track someone.
One of the feature’s central functions will be the “emergency reset,” which will let people instantly sign out of their iCloud account from all devices and limit messaging to just one device in their possession, per Variety. This will be particularly helpful to anyone trying to leave a domestic abuse situation; currently, if someone has more than one Apple device that is connected to an iCloud account, all of the devices logged into that account receive the same messages. In instances of intimate partner violence, the abusive partner could have access to one or more of those devices, which would make discreetly messaging someone for help without the abusive partner’s knowledge extremely difficult.
Safety Check is a part of Apple’s efforts to address concerns around stalking, especially with its AirTag feature. Something like Safety Check is long overdue and part of me is surprised that people couldn’t do any of this on an i-Phone before, but better late than never, I guess.