Police departments across the U.S. are asking parents to be aware of a new iOS update that enables sharing of contact information when iPhones are brought close together.
“NameDrop” in iOS 17 is automatically activated in the update. The feature allows contact information to be shared when both iPhones are unlocked and brought nearly touching each other. A connection is established between the two phones, which vibrate and glow. A prompt asks whether the phone user wants to share their contact information.
According to Fox News, you must click an option, or nothing will be shared.
Apple also told Fox News that "to cancel NameDrop at any time, a user can simply swipe from the bottom of the display, lock their device, or move their device away if the connection has not been established."
NameDrop works similarly to AirDrop, which allows users of Apple laptops, iPhones, and iPads to exchange photos as long as they are within Bluetooth and Wi-Fi range.
Police have also clarified that NameDrop does not allow other users to “retrieve your contact information simply by walking past you.” Phones must be centimeters away, and users must tap to agree to “share” information.
Mark Bartholomew, a law professor focusing on cyber law at the University at Buffalo, said that NameDrop does not threaten children’s safety.
“To the extent there’s panic here about nonconsensual taking of contact information, I’m not that worried,” he said.
Meanwhile, police still encourage users to be aware of the new feature.
“This is intended for the public to be aware of as this can easily be mistaken or looked past by elderly, children or other vulnerable individuals,” the Village of Mount Pleasant Police Department wrote in a Facebook post-Sunday. “The information provided intends to inform the public of this feature and adjust their settings as needed to keep their or their loved ones contact information safe.”
Michigan’s Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “We know that it allows you to share it, and you can refuse, but many people do not check their settings and realize how their phone works. This particular setting defaults to on rather than having you opt-in. And again, it is the area where you decide who can access AirDrop.”
To turn off NameDrop, Go to the iPhone’s settings, tap “General,” and select “Airdrop.” Then toggle off the “Bringing Devices Together” option. Click here for an instructional video.
Photo Courtesy: © Unsplash/Rodion Kutsaev
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.