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Apple & Google Tag Team To Prevent Stalking Through Bluetooth Trackers


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apple-google-bluetooth-safety-1683099396 Photo 240056537 © Inkdropcreative1 | Dreamstime.com

 

The introduction of the AirTag and other similar Bluetooth trackers might have made finding your keys, wallets, and cats easier, but it has also given stalkers a whole new slew of methods to go after people. Apple and Google are now coming together to develop a new way to protect users from being unknowingly stalked by strangers or other malicious people in their lives. Currently, if you have an unidentified tracking device on you, your iPhone is wired to alert you of its presence. Apple had also updated its AirTag to chirp while searching for something through the Find My app. However, most of these protocols were contained to iOS, and Apple had to ask those with Android phones to download a dedicated app to equip themselves against such incidents better.  The first step the companies are taking is to create a “first-of-its-kind” specification that allows devices such as the AirTag to remain compatible with Android and iOS’ unauthorized tracking detection systems. Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, of Security, and Pebblebee also supported the proposed draft. The specifications also emphasize that location-enabled devices should possess a low-energy Bluetooth signal detectable by both iOS and Android. This signal, while maintaining the gadget’s anonymity, allows non-owners to establish unencrypted connections.

 When the device has been separated from its owner for more than 30 minutes, it should switch from “near-owner” mode to “separated”. From there, the separated mode will enable users to retrieve the gadget’s serial number, and have law enforcement locate potential criminals. The draft has caught the attention of some anti-stalking advocates. Erica Olsen, a senior director from the advocacy group National Network to End Domestic Violence, tells Apple that it is a significant step forward. However, the Center for Democracy & Technology notes that there needs to be an actionable move to implement these protocols.

 

There is still more work to be done to standardize, implement, & adopt protocols / software for detecting & disabling location trackers used for unwanted tracking. We look forward to continuing to work w/ @nnedv & other partners to reduce the harmful misuse of location trackers.

— Center for Democracy & Technology (@CenDemTech) May 2, 2023

Apple and Google are awaiting reviews that will take place over the next three months from the Internet Engineering Task Force. After which, the firms will work with feedback given to produce a production implementation of the specification by the year’s end.   [via Gizmodo and GSM Arena, Photo 240056537 © Inkdropcreative1 | Dreamstime.com]

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