(Photo by Swisshashtag: Wikimedia Commons)
I’m all for progress, but sometimes it’s a good idea to take a step back and evaluate certain products. Obviously, most companies evaluate safety risks during use. But how often do we look at things like geolocation devices and consider the risk to the general public? For example, Apple AirTags are great for finding lost items, but women are now being stalked using the device.
Women Are Being Stalked Using Apple AirTags
If you have not seen Apple AirTags, they are a relatively inexpensive (starting at $29) means of tracking important items. Roughly the size of a poker chip you attach the AirTag to an important item, like keys. You program the AirTag to you phone and if you lose your keys, use your phone to track it. The app brings up a map that shows the exact location of your AirTag—along with your item.
According to an April report on Vice, “One year ago this month, Apple unveiled the AirTag, a shiny, half-dollar-sized coin with a speaker, Bluetooth antenna, and battery inside, which helps users keep track of their missing items. Attach an AirTag to your purse, keys, wallet, or even your car, and if you lose it, the device will ping every nearby Apple product with Bluetooth turned on to triangulate its location. Those devices send its location back to you on a map, showing where the AirTag has been and its current location.”
Following the launch, Motherboard predicted that the device would be used to stalk and harass women. As a result, they reached out to dozens of the country’s largest police departments requesting records mentioning AirTags over an eight-month period.
50 of the 150 cases were women calling because they received notifications of tracking by an AirTag they didn’t own.
A Brietbart report states, “Of those 50 cases, 25 of the women were able to identify an individual in their life who they strongly suspected had planted the AirTags on them in an effort to stalk them. The women reported that current and former romantic partners were using AirTags to stalk and harass them.”
In the reports, it appears that typically exes or jealous partners use the device. However, the topic of human trafficking is also a real concern. Although there is currently no specific evidence of that happening, it is always a real possibility.
In the reported cases, the AirTag was attached to the victim’s vehicle in some way. Some inside the gas door, some behind the license plate, etc. You will most likely be notified of a nearby AirTag following you if you have an iPhone. However, if you are using any other device, you would have no way of knowing.
The Vice report says, “AirTags have always implemented a notification feature that alerts people with iPhones if an AirTag is traveling with them; anyone not using an iPhone or Apple device, however, would never know.”
As a means to rectify this issue Apple launched an Adroid app that notifies you of the presence of an AirTag. Likewise, Apple recently announced more security features, including warning users of misuse, more precise tracking of the AirTag for the person it is tracking, and louder chimes. But criminals are still working around the security measures.
Ladies, do not disregard strange chirping noises or notifications on your phone, they may be alerting you to a problem. And maybe consider getting an AirTag of your own and tag your pistol.
The Vice story is lengthy but well worth the read for additional details.