Apple changes AirDrop security for everyone with iOS 16.2 after backlash over restrictions in China TechCrunch

Apple is taking control of AirDrop privacy settings for all of its users with the iOS 16.2 update, following backlash over its recent restrictions affecting the use of the feature in China. . In November, reports circulated that Apple had started AirDrop usage restrictions in China when the country is facing the spread Demonstration about the Chinese government’s “no Covid” policy. Protesters used AirDrop, which leverages Bluetooth Low Energy and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, to instantly share files with each other while circumventing Chinese censorship.

By enabling “Everyone,” objectors and others can easily receive files from anyone else, including those who aren’t already in their iPhone Contacts.

Users first noticed the new restrictions on AirDrop in China that appeared upon the release of the iOS 16.1 update. Once updated, iOS will revert AirDrop privacy settings to “Contacts Only” in just 10 minutes even if “Everyone” was previously selected. (Users will have to manually select the “Everyone” setting—it is not the default setting.)

The change was implemented immediately after major media publications, including The New York Timesreported how Chinese protesters used AirDrop to send messages denouncing Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as sharing information about the protests and instructions on how to download a VPN to bypass Chinese censorship. nation.

Apple, which has deep ties to China — it’s both its main customer base and manufacturing base — is criticized by some as complicit in supporting the Communist Party. However, others have argued that leaving the feature open to “Everyone” indefinitely is always a security and privacy risk — and one that should never be allowed in the first place. head.

In fact, another news story illustrates the second issue – a passenger on a recent Southwest Airlines flight AirDroped a nude photo to others on the plane. The pilot threatened to land the plane if it didn’t stop.

Reached for comment on AirDrop’s changes in China, the company only said that it is planning to bring the functionality to users globally in the “next year”. Turns out, it already did.

Apple today said the iOS 16.2 release will now update AirDrop to revert the setting to “Contacts Only” after 10 minutes to prevent requests to receive unwanted content. The update was released today into beta and will roll out to all supported devices in the near future.

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