Apple urged to alter iMessage update

Apple has been urged to change its recently announced updates to its iMessage service in order to better protect survivors of sexual harassment and assault. 

The US-based tech giant revealed last week that iOS 16, due out later this year, will allow users to edit or unsend messages for up to 15 minutes after sending. 

However, Dallas-based lawyer Michelle Simpson Tuegel wants the company to rethink that stance, saying it will expose victims to additional harassment and bullying. 

In a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Simpson Tuegel said perpetrators would take advantage of the tools "to send harmful content knowing they can destroy evidence of their misconduct "

She acknowledged that iMessage wasn't the only messaging app that offers such functionality, but the fact that it's the default app used on iPhones makes a difference. 

The lawyer, who has represented hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse, including former US gymansts abused by team doctor Larry Nassar, wrote that evidence such as iMessages "regularly plays a critical role in the prosecution of both civil and criminal abuse and assault cases". 

"A perpetrator can send violent content to their victim, and then edit the messages within 15 minutes to hide evidence of their abuse," Simpson Tuegel wrote. 

"Victims of trauma cannot be relied upon, in that moment, to screenshot these messages to retain them for any future legal proceedings - particularly when the abuser is engaging in a form of psychological warfare.