Apple’s app and phone ecosystem make it really easy to use messages on your computer, to share your location with friends or keep an eye on where your kids are. That feature set has a shadow side, too — for phone users in abusive relationships, there’s literally and figuratively nowhere to hide; it’s unthinkable to leave your phone behind if you need to make a quick exit out of a dangerous situation, but that very same phone can prove to be dangerous if the person you’re trying to get away from has access to your location and messages.
Apple worked with NNEDV (the National Network to End Domestic Violence), NCVC (National Center for Victims of Crime) and Australia’s WESNET (Women’s Services Network) to develop a new suite of features to help people in abusive relationships who need to drop off the radar for their own safety.
Safety Check is a new section is settings where you can do a quick review of who sees what. Within the tool, there is a detailed, customizable set of sharing and access settings, but more importantly, there’s an emergency button that resets all access that anybody might have to your messages, app access, location tracking and other crucial info.
The idea is to be able to yank access in an emergency, to make it easier to cut ties and get to safety.
It resets the system privacy permissions for all apps, automatically signs you out of iCloud on all your devices, and restricts messages and FaceTime to the device you have in your hand, to avoid text messages being readable on a logged-in computer somewhere.
The non-emergency-button helps manage safety and privacy settings by giving access to tools that help manage who has access to what. Users can audit which permissions they’ve granted to certain apps.