Apple has released a guide addressing the use of AirTags and safety amid multiple reports that people have been stalked using AirTag devices.
Apple has an extensive network called “Find My” that allows users to locate lost items, including wallets, backpacks, and luggage. Devices like AirTag can be tracked to find those missing items, however, iPhone and iPad or Apple Mac owners can find laptops without using AirTags.
The director of Cyber-Security at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Eva Galeperin, told the BBC that “if you create an item which is useful for tracking stolen items, then you have also created a perfect tool for stalking.”
Users can give people they trust access to their location for emergency purposes, but there have been reports of cases where people have been able to access users’ location data through AirTag. However, the AirTag has a unique Bluetooth identifier that changes often to prevent unwanted tracking.
One thing AirTag will do is allow people with Apple devices to find someone else’s item if it has an AirTag on it. This could be because someone is borrowing a device, or a device has been lost, but it could allow someone to track another person.
Apple claims “the whole process is anonymous and encrypted to protect your privacy,” so not even Apple is supposed to know where the device is located or who they belong to. If a device is found, neither the person the item belongs to nor the person who found it are made aware of the other’s identity. All location data is encrypted.
However, someone could unknowingly attach an AirTag to someone’s vehicle or other belongings to track them. Anyone who experiences an unwanted or unknown AirTag near them or on their person that does not belong to a known contact is encouraged to contact local law enforcement.
Apple says it is working on updates to make sure the AirTag is more secure in the future.
When Geoffrey Fowler at The Washington Post tested the AirTags, he described them as “terrifyingly good” at tracking and told CBS that “the problem is someone could slip one of these into your bag, or into your car or some other belonging of yours, without you knowing it.”
For now, Apple recommends that not to go home if there is an unknown device nearby that is tracking. Multiple outlets have reported stalking attempts using AirTags in several states.
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