New report indicates Apple has made stalking easier and cheaper with AirTags


Okay, you may have seen many stories about AirTag-related stalking or tracking so far, as multiple accounts on situations like this have been appearing online. Apple’s item tracker, the AirTag, has built-in anti-stalking features that other item trackers didn’t have, and yet, a report now suggests those anti-stalking features might not be working in a lot of cases, reports AppleInsider.

New report suggests AirTag is not as good at preventing stalking as it would seem

Motherboard has actually analyzed 150 police reports filed in the recent eight months regarding AirTags. According to the results shared, less than half of these reports were about robbery or theft, and the rest was harassment or stalking of women using an Apple AirTag. In 50 of the cases analyzed, the women called the police because they had received anti-tracking notifications on their iPhones.Additionally, in the majority of cases, the women who were victims of this found AirTags hidden in their vehicles or heard the AirTags beeping. In most cases, the stalker or abuser was someone the victim knew, for example, a former partner or an ex-boyfriend.

But, wait. Location-based tracking is not a new thing, and it didn’t start with AirTags. Domestic violence community educator Mary Beth Becker-Lauth stated in the report that this type of stalking, using someone’s location, is “as old as GPS technology itself.”

The report also underlines that the fact we are seeing a lot of AirTag stalking accounts doesn’t mean that stalking incidents are rising because of AirTags, but more like AirTags are helping identify such incidents. Pretty much, meaning Apple’s anti-stalking protections are doing their job.

Electronic Frontier Foundation cybersecurity director Eva Galperin stated that the possibility of the AirTag to alert the victim is solid evidence of stalking, which victims don’t often have.

But the report isn’t all good for Apple, as you can see from the title of this article. The thing is, according to the report’s suggestion, Apple’s anti-stalking protections aren’t always working. AirTags have made stalking easier, as they use the AirTag network that pings nearby Apple devices (and they are a lot in case you didn’t know) in order to track. The report states that although location-based tracking existed for a long time, Apple made it cheaper and easier.

Recently, in response to similar concerns, Apple has announced some new features that the AirTag is going to get for improved stalking prevention, and generally to try to eliminate or at least minimize the cases in which AirTags are being misused.

One of the features announced is a warning that will advise you when you are setting up AirTags, that the AirTag is linked to your Apple ID, and that stalking is a crime. Hopefully, this might prevent some people who are thinking of using it maliciously from doing so.

Another significant part of the new anti-stalking features that the AirTag is going to get is a new tone sequence that should make the item tracker easier to find, as well as changes to the alert that indicates you are being tracked in order for it to alert you sooner.

Additionally, with a subsequent update that should come later this year, if you have an iPhone 11, iPhone 12, or iPhone 13 model, you will be able to detect and locate unwanted AirTags with Precision Finding.

On top of that, Apple stated that it will work with law enforcement in order to stop AirTag misuse when such happened.

According to Becker-Lauth though, the issue is not just on Apple to resolve. She indicates that in order to fully address the situation, tracker manufacturers, public safety organizations and others should collaborate to find a solution.





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