London police are investigating an incident of cyber flashing after a woman received unrequested photos of a man’s penis via the AirDrop function of her iPhone.
Lorraine Crighton-Smith, 34, was traveling to work in south London when the indecent images popped up on her phone. She had set the device to be visible to anyone, not just contacts, which allowed the stranger to send the unwanted pictures.
While she was forced to see the photos, (AirDrop displays a preview of the photos when it asks if you’d like to accept it), she did not accept them, which means there are no photos for British police to work with in order to investigate the case further.
“I had Airdrop switched on because I had been using it previously to send photos to another iPhone user – and a picture appeared on the screen of a man’s penis, which I was quite shocked by,” she told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme.
“So, I declined the image, instinctively, and another image appeared, at which [point] I realized 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.”
“I was worried then about who else might have been a recipient, it might have been a child, somebody more vulnerable than me. My name on Airdrop just says Lorraine’s iPhone so they knew they were sending it to a woman. The images were of a sexual nature and it was quite distressing.”
While British Transport Police say they haven’t encountered this problem before, superintendent Gill Murray says they have a dedicated team to deal with such issues and will arrest any offenders.
“By linking this to physical evidence, such as CCTV footage or witness statements, we can catch offenders and bring them to justice through the courts.,” she said in a statement provided to Mashable.
“My message to offenders is clear, while you might think you can hide behind modern technology in order to carry out abuse, you leave a digital footprint and stand a very good chance of being caught, arrested and ending up on the sex offenders register.”
Murray says anyone who has experienced any sort of sexual harassment while using British public transportation should report it immediately by texting 61016, which will alert transport police.
To prevent anyone from cyber flashing you on your iOS device, either set AirDrop to receive files from Contacts Only, or turn it off completely. Instructions for changing the settings for AirDrop can be found here.