Universal Mentors Association

Apple and Google Aim to Stop Unwanted Tracking by AirTags, Other Devices


Apple and Google are coming together to fight against bad actors misusing Bluetooth location-tracking devices like the AirTag. The two companies submitted a draft set of standards and best practices for the tech industry to the Internet Engineering Task Force that would prevent unwanted tracking through Bluetooth devices, Apple said in a press release on Tuesday. 

The specification, which incorporates input from device manufactures and safety and advocacy groups, makes it possible for people who use iOS or Android platforms to be notified when they are being tracked through a Bluetooth device without their consent. Currently, Apple users are notified on their iPhone when an unwanted AirTag is near them, but this notification doesn’t apply to Android platforms and vice versa. 

“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industry wide action to solve,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of Engineering for Android.

While Apple AirTags and other Bluetooth trackers are supposed to solve the age-old problem of finding missing items like keys, phones or wallets, some bad actors have been using the devices to stalk people. It’s possible for someone to slip an AirTag or other tracker into your bag or car without your consent and track your location.

“A key element to reducing misuse is a universal, OS-level solution that is able to detect trackers made by different companies on the variety of smartphones that people use every day,” said Alexandra Reeve Givens, president of the Center for Democracy & Technology, in the release. 

Other Bluetooth device companies, like Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security and Pebblebee expressed support for the initiative. 

Apple and Google will address feedback once a comment period ends and release a plan to implement the standards. Apple said it expects features to be ready by the end of 2023, which will be supported in future versions of iOS and Android. 


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