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Apple is restricting AirDrop privacy settings for all of its users with the iOS 16.2 update, after dropping recent restrictions affecting the use of the feature in China. In November, reports circulated that Apple had begun restrict the use of AirDrop in China as the country faced widespread protests over the Chinese government’s “Zero Covid” policy. Protesters used AirDrop, which uses Bluetooth Low Energy and peer-to-peer Wi-Fi, to instantly share files with each other while avoiding Chinese censors.

By leaving “Everyone” enabled, protesters and others were able to easily receive files from anyone else, including those who weren’t already in their iPhone contacts.

Users first noticed that the new AirDrop restrictions in China arrived with the release of the iOS 16.1.1 update. After the update, iOS will revert AirDrop’s privacy settings back to “Contacts Only” after just 10 minutes, even if “Everyone” was previously selected. (The user must manually select the “All” setting – it was not the default.)

The change came shortly after major media reports, including The New York Timesreported how Chinese protesters were using AirDrop to send messages condemning China’s President Xi Jinping, as well as share information about protests and instructions on how to download a VPN to bypass the country’s censorship.

Apple, whose ties to China run deep — it’s both a key customer base and a manufacturing base — has been called by some complicit in aiding the Communist Party. However, others argued that leaving the feature open to “Everyone” indefinitely was always a security and privacy risk — and one that should never have been allowed in the first place.

Another news story illustrates the latter problem, in fact – a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight recently AirDropped nude photo to others on the plane. The pilot threatened to land the plane if he did not stop.

The company sought comment on changes to AirDrop in China said planned to roll out the functionality to users globally in the “next year”. As it turns out, it already does.

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

Correction, 12/7/22 4:10 PM ET: Apple’s initial change in China appeared in iOS 16.1.1, not iOS 16.1. We’ve updated to fix this.

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