NYC attempts to crack down on unsolicited nudes AirDropped on subway

If you’re lucky, it’s a problem you’ve never encountered, and never will – but for many commuters, receiving unsolicited photos of strangers’ genitalia has become a genuine concern.

Subway riders and other city-goers have increasingly reported that they’ve been sent sexually explicit pictures through Apple’s AirDrop tool in recent years; a Twitter search of the issue pulls up dozens of complaints from the past few weeks alone.

The problem has become so bad that New York lawmakers are now trying to take matters into their own hands, with hopes that a new bill will make so-called ‘cyber-flashing’ a misdemeanor offense punishable by a $1,000 fine or up to a year in jail.

While it sounds like a step in the right direction, experts say tracking down the people who send these photos won’t be so easy, as AirDrop IDs are easily changed and difficult to pin to a specific device.

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Subway riders and other city-goers have increasingly reported that they¿ve been sent sexually explicit pictures through Apple¿s AirDrop tool in recent years. The problem has become so bad that New York lawmakers are now trying to take matters into their own hands. File photo

Subway riders and other city-goers have increasingly reported that they¿ve been sent sexually explicit pictures through Apple¿s AirDrop tool in recent years. The problem has become so bad that New York lawmakers are now trying to take matters into their own hands. File photo

Subway riders and other city-goers have increasingly reported that they’ve been sent sexually explicit pictures through Apple’s AirDrop tool in recent years. The problem has become so bad that New York lawmakers are now trying to take matters into their own hands. File photo

HOW TO CHANGE AIRDROP SETTINGS 

Once AirDrop is enabled, users are given three options for who can send them photos: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone.

If you’re not sure what yours is set to, go to Settings > General > AirDrop.

Here, you’ll see the three options, with a blue check-mark next to the one you have enabled. 

For a more secure use of the function, select Contacts Only. 

‘Just like if you get on the train and flash someone, you’ll be arrested,’ council member Donovan Richards, who co-sponsors the new bill alongside five others, told Wired.

‘You should be held to the same standard, and the law should be applied to you equally.’

Apple’s AirDrop tool allows iPhone users to send and receive files over WiFi and Bluetooth.

While undoubtedly a convenient feature in some circumstances, it’s also opened the door for a new type of predatory behaviour.

Once AirDrop is enabled, users are given three options for who can send them photos: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone.

But, many iPhone users have turned it on unaware that it’s set to accept ‘Everyone’ – and never expecting the feature to be used maliciously.

Unsolicited photos received while on the train, at the library, or standing on line at Starbucks, however, have come as a rude awakening to many, and a reminder to tighten their device’s privacy settings.

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This past July, for example, 28-year-old Britta Carlson told the New York Post that she was horrified after accepting an AirDrop request while riding the 6 train on her way to a concert, and seeing one such image pop up.

‘It was just a huge close-up picture of a disgusting penis,’ Carlson said.

‘It really felt like someone had actually just flashed me. It never even crossed my mind that someone may use it to send stuff like that.’

As Wired points out, identifying who sent a crude photo through AirDrop is a challenging task.

For one, cyber-flashers typically target people in crowded areas, making it difficult to physically spot the person behind the attack.

And, even if a log can be obtained from the recipient’s phone, much of the stored data lacks identifying information, says digital forensics analyst Sarah Edwards.

An address that ‘looks like a MAC address’ will show up in the log, but this ‘is neither the Bluetooth nor the Wi-Fi addresses,’ Edwards explains in a blog post.

‘This address is generated different every time a connection is made, therefore not an ideal data point for attribution.’

The device name, too, may be a dead end.

‘This may lead you in the right direction, however anyone can name their device anything they want,’ Edwards says.

Once AirDrop is enabled, users are given three options for who can send them photos: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone. But, many iPhone users have turned it on unaware that it¿s set to accept ¿Everyone¿ ¿ and never expecting the feature to be used maliciously

Once AirDrop is enabled, users are given three options for who can send them photos: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone. But, many iPhone users have turned it on unaware that it¿s set to accept ¿Everyone¿ ¿ and never expecting the feature to be used maliciously

Once AirDrop is enabled, users are given three options for who can send them photos: Receiving Off, Contacts Only, or Everyone. But, many iPhone users have turned it on unaware that it’s set to accept ‘Everyone’ – and never expecting the feature to be used maliciously

‘I can call my iPhone X “Samsung S9” for instance, no identifying information and frankly a device that doesn’t even do AirDrop.’ 

It’s possible that there may be a traceable ID, but the researcher says she has ‘yet to find this connection.’

‘The lack of attribution artifacts at this time (additional research pending) is going to make it very difficult to attribute AirDrop misuse,’ Edwards concludes.

Still, officials hope that designating the offense a crime will spur action from tech companies and law enforcement alike to crack down on explicit AirDrop photos in whatever way possible.

The bill will go to hearings in 2019.

Link hienalouca.com

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