With the next iOS update, Apple iPhones will receive a feature that has long been suggested by child safety activists. Minors in the United States will receive notifications when they try to send or open messages with sensitive photos.
iOS 15.2: minors will receive warnings before sending intimate photos
Apple announced its plans to implement this feature back in the summer; but since then the company has decided to slightly adjust its work: when trying to send or open a message with such a photo, only underage iPhone users running iOS 15.2 will receive warnings, but not their parents. Activists reacted to this decision in two ways: some positively assessed the company’s concern for the privacy of young users, even before their parents, while others felt that in this case, the danger remains.
Thorn, a non-profit organization, has conducted a study, the results of which are somewhat shocking. According to a report published in November, 14% of children aged 9 to 12 have sent sensitive images over the past year, up from 6% last year. In 2020, according to the organization, 21% of children of this age considered it normal to send such materials – in 2019, 13% of respondents adhered to this opinion. According to Apple, system warnings will give kids a chance to change their minds and not make hasty decisions that can have serious consequences.
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The new security feature in iOS 15.2 will be available through the Family Sharing setting; which parents will have to enable themselves. An AI-based algorithm detects such content in the Messages application, the system displays a warning, and the image itself appears blurry until the user explicitly tries to open it. In addition to the warning itself, the system will prompt the young user to contact a trustworthy person if such images are sent under pressure. Apple emphasizes that it does not have access to this content due to end-to-end encryption of messages. Similar protection will appear in iPadOS and macOS updates for the foreseeable future.
In the beta version of iOS 15.2, already available to testers, Apple introduced a number of new features; including the ability to search for third-party AirTag trackers that attackers can use to spy on a user.
The new feature is available in the Find My app. It allows you to scan for other people’s beacons and timely detect an AirTag; or other compatible device that is invisibly attached to the user’s clothing or things.
If a tracker is found, the system will show the user information about the device; and offer to disable it so that it can no longer be used for tracking.