Apple And Google Team Up To Stop Unwanted AirTag Tracking


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Tech rivals Apple and Google have pledged to stop unwanted tracking via devices such as AirTags. The pair have jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to ensure Bluetooth location-tracking devices are compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.

The specification is already receiving support from others—Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security and Pebblebee are confirmed as being onboard, according to a press release.

The Apple and Google-led specification offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers who choose to build tracking capabilities into their products.

The problem with AirTags

Apple’s AirTags are super-useful, but many people have voiced concerns over the devices being used for stalking. The devices are pretty easy to slip into someone’s bag, or place in a vehicle—plus they are tiny, so difficult to stop.

The Washington Post recently wrote a report that found AirTags could provide a stalker with accurate alerts detailing their victim’s location.

Apple is aware of the issue and introduced technology that helps detect if an AirTag is travelling with you. Last year, Apple gave AirTags an important anti-stalking upgrade for anyone using iOS 16.2. The move came via Apple’s Firmware Update 2.0.24, which enables a Precision Finding feature to “locate an unknown AirTag” if it detects one moving with you.

A uniform approach

A uniform approach between all the big players is “vitally important” when tracking devices are so easy to abuse, says Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at ESET. “This next phase will make AirTags safer for everyone and to be used in confidence.”

Moore says Apple “took far too long to respond to the initial reports of AirTags being abused for illicit purposes” and points out that for safer use of the devices, the iPhone maker required help from Google—so AirTags could be detected by Android phones and tablets.

Bluetooth trackers have created “tremendous user benefits”, but they also bring the potential of…