Police warn parents about new iPhone feature that could expose children to strangers

A new feature in the latest iPhone update has raised concerns among law enforcement agencies and parents. The feature, called NameDrop, allows users to share their contact information with another iPhone or Apple Watch by holding the devices very close together. Police say this could put children at risk of being contacted by strangers or predators.

Name Drop is a feature that was introduced in the iOS 17 update for iPhone and Apple Watch. It is enabled by default and can be accessed by opening the Contacts app and tapping on the NameDrop icon at the top right corner. The feature uses Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to exchange contact information between devices. NFC is a short-range wireless communication protocol that allows devices to communicate when they are within a few centimeters of each other.

Police warn parents about new iPhone feature that could expose children to strangers
Police warn parents about new iPhone feature that could expose children to strangers

According to Apple, NameDrop is designed to make it easier for users to share their contact information with friends, family, and colleagues. Users can choose what information they want to share, such as their name, phone number, email address, or social media accounts. They can also customize their NameDrop profile with a photo and a personal message.

However, police warn that NameDrop could also be used by strangers or predators to obtain children’s contact information without their consent or knowledge. For example, a stranger could hold their device near a child’s backpack, pocket, or wrist and receive their NameDrop profile. The stranger could then use the information to contact the child via phone, text, email, or social media.

Police advise parents to disable NameDrop

Several police departments across the country have posted warnings to parents on their social media pages about the potential dangers of NameDrop. They advise parents to disable the feature on their children’s devices or to turn off NFC altogether. They also recommend that parents monitor their children’s online activity and educate them about online safety.

To disable NameDrop, users can go to Settings > Contacts > NameDrop and toggle off the switch. To turn off NFC, users can go to Settings > General > NFC and toggle off the switch. Alternatively, users can disable both NameDrop and NFC by turning on Airplane Mode.

Police say that while NameDrop may seem like a convenient and fun feature, it could also expose children to unwanted and harmful contact from strangers. They urge parents to be vigilant and proactive in protecting their children’s privacy and safety.

Apple responds to NameDrop concerns

Apple has not issued an official statement regarding the NameDrop feature and the police warnings. However, a spokesperson for the company told The Hill that NameDrop is designed to be secure and user-friendly. The spokesperson said that NameDrop only works when both devices are unlocked and have the Contacts app open. The spokesperson also said that NameDrop requires physical proximity and mutual consent to share contact information.

The spokesperson added that Apple is committed to providing users with control over their privacy and security. The spokesperson said that users can choose what information they want to share and with whom. The spokesperson also said that users can block or delete any contacts they receive via NameDrop.

Apple also provides users with resources and tips on how to use their devices safely and responsibly. Users can visit the Apple Support website or the Apple Privacy website to learn more about NameDrop and other features.

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