Cop Warning On iPhone Child Safety Criticized

John Lister's picture

A police department has warned parents of a new iPhone feature it says could allow shady people to get contact details for children. However, tech experts say the police claim is overblown at best and misleading at worst.

The feature is called Name Drop and is in the latest version of iOS. It should now be running on most iPhones released in the past 15 years. The feature is also in many models of the Apple Watch.

According to the Watertown, Connecticut Police Department, writing on Facebook: "With the new Apple update 'NameDrop' is enabled by default. With this feature enabled, anyone can place their phone next to yours (or your child's phone) and automatically receive their contact information to include their picture, phone number, email address and more, with a tap of your unlocked screen. To disable this feature go to General - AirDrop - and shut off Bringing Devices Together".

While in the airdrop settings, make sure you have "contacts only" set so you don't receive unwanted pictures from strangers. (Source:

Confirmation Needed

However, this explanation leaves out some major limitations and underplays some factors. For example, the phones have to be virtually touching to be close enough to trigger the feature.

It also only works when *both* devices are unlocked. Given the default setting is for iPhones to lock after 30 seconds of non-activity, that means it would be extremely difficult to activate the feature without both phone owners knowing.

The other huge limitation is that simply placing the phones together does not automatically share the information. Instead, both users must tap an on-screen button marked Share to confirm. Users can also tap a button marked "Receive Only" which, as the name suggests, will not share their information.

Scaremongering Claims

In both cases, the users must keep the phones close together throughout the process before tapping a "Done" button to complete the information sharing.

While some have thanked the Watertown police for highlighting the feature, some in the tech world are more critical. The T3 site speculates that the post may have been in response to a "scaremongering TikTok video" with the police's social media team not verifying the claims before issuing the warning. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Were the police right to issue this warning? Has Apple done enough to reduce the risk of unwanted information sharing with this feature? Should Apple have given users and parents more information before activating the feature?

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