The first case of ‘cyber-flashing’ is being investigated in the UK, after a woman on a train in South London received an unwanted picture of a man’s penis via the AirDrop feature on her iPhone.
Lorraine Crighton-Smith told the BBC she felt violated. The 34-year-old added that she had the AirDrop feature because she had been sending pictures to another iPhone user.
By swiping up from the bottom of the iPad or iPhone screen, the AirDrop settings can be accessed from the control centre. The case exposes the potentially problematic nature of the feature, which can be used to send pictures to another person in the immediate vicinity if they also have the technology.
Crighton-Smith said because her AirDrop shows her name, the offender sent it to her as they clearly knew she was a woman. While that was bad enough, she was concerned it could have easily been sent to a child.
So, I declined the image, instinctively, and another image appeared, at which [point] I realised someone nearby must be sending them, and that concerned me.
I felt violated, it was a very unpleasant thing to have forced upon my screen.
According to British Transport Police, this is the first time such a situation has arisen with Apple technology, though Bluetooth has previously been used in similar scenarios.