AirTag, an Apple device that was launched on April 30, 2021 is a unique device that helps you find lost items with incredible accuracy; but can act as a stalking tool too. This device carries a potential risk in the name of a safety device. After its debut last year, there have been concerns regarding privacy amid which Apple has released various notices and press releases and also introduced a personal safety guide.
“It’s not a spy tool marketed as a spy tool, because it’s marketed as an AirTag, and it’s Apple” Adam Dodge told The Verge. Dodge is CEO of EndTab, an organization that offers training on tech-enabled stalking and harassment. “People sometimes don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, apparently, and use it to track someone’s location because, to them, it’s a natural use of the technology.”
Some of the cases of the device causing a problem are, one Connecticut man got arrested for putting an airtag in his ex-girlfriend’s car, another man from Texas did the same to his alienated wife. A new York Times reporter used it to track her husband’s every move.
WORKING OF AN AIRTAG
Airtags are Bluetooth devices and don’t have their own internet connection. They send out a Bluetooth signal to the nearby Apple devices which acknowledges it and then send the ‘lost’ Airtag’s location to Apple’s iCloud servers which helps to track its last location accurately. It is quite a fast and precise network for locating things as there are a number of iPhones out there. Airtag is potentially a much better device than other item trackers available like Tile and Chipolo. After facing the backlash, the company cleared its stance by mentioning that every step of the device tracking process is anonymous as well as encrypted.
Apple also published a personal safety guide, which included a page on how to “Stay safe with AirTag and other Find My accessories.” The company also pledged to change its notifications and alert sounds. But Apple hasn’t still revealed how it’s thinking to change the system or when these changes will be in effect, and just mentioned “later this year”.
AirTags have two main anti-stalking features. First, it notifies the user when an unknown AirTag or Find My accessory is traveling with the user for over a period of time if you have an iPhone with iOS 14.5 or later. The notification mentions the instructions on how to find and disable the tracker. Second, if an unknown AirTag is away from its owner for a long time (Apple doesn’t specify how long but says between 8 and 24 hours), it’ll play a chime-like sound when it’s moved so that the AirTag can be found. This works regardless of whether your phone runs Android or iOS.
Apple has a variety of anti-abuse safeguards to stop people from using the device to stalk. Also, the Cupertino company announced a series of features coming this year to combat unwanted tracking. These changes include precision finding, sounds to display alerts, an improvement to unwanted tracking alerts, and a tune-up to AirTag’s sound.
Apple’s IOS 15.4 beta even introduced new anti-stalking measures that users will see while setting up an AirTag. A privacy warning would appear stating that using AirTags to track people without their consent is a crime. It also warns misuse can trigger law enforcement to find more information about the owner of a foreign AirTag.
There have been various instances where people’s privacy have been compromised, and it’s high time that a reputed company like Apple focuses on enhancing the privacy part of the device to deliver the customer better.