We’ve been hearing reports about how Apple’s AirTags are being misused for the purpose of surveillance since their inception last year. It’s been a particular concern for women, and now it appears that it may be considerably more problematic than many previously thought.
Over that matter, according to research by Motherboard(opens in new tab), which obtained reports from eight major police agencies for a period of 8 months. AirTags were cited in 150 reports during that time period, with 50 of those reports coming from women who had gotten notices that a rogue AirTag was following their movements. They were all women.
More over half of the women polled felt a guy in their life was responsible for putting the AirTag — with the intention of tracking and harassing them. There was a woman who phoned the police because of an increased level of harassment from a man who had threatened to “make her life a living hell” by placing an AirTag in her vehicle.
Also, a lady’s tyres were cut by an irate ex, who left an AirTag in her car, while another woman found AirTags on her car many times. She said it was her ex, who has a history of abuse, since he was able to show up at the same areas as her.
A common theme in the complaints is the appearance of former partners, as well as concerns and threats that the person who planted the AirTag intended to cause damage. When confronted about the stalker, some female partners of the man they are dating get irrational or even violent.
Only one of the 150 reports included a man who thought his ex-girlfriend was following him around with an AirTag. AirTags are only mentioned in robberies in around a half of the cases.
It’s important to remember that these are only eight of the hundreds of police jurisdictions in the United States that have filed reports on this incident. In addition, none of the other nations where AirTags are sold are taken into consideration. There is a good chance that the 50 stalker complaints are only the beginning.
Was Apple aware of this?
Apple has come under fire for its AirTags, which may be used for stalking and other illegal reasons. As of April 2021, AirTag fobs were available for iOS, which has subsequently undergone several improvements, however it’s evident that this isn’t adequate..
However, it fails to take into account that Android users exist and may be targeted by AirTag. An AirTag that is following you isn’t very helpful if it can’t be tracked down either. At the end of last year, Apple released the Tracker Detect app for Android. In contrast to how it works on iPhone, this software does not immediately detect adjacent AirTags, therefore it is useless if you are unaware that you are being followed.
The company has also stated that it plans to release a precise tracking function to assist victims in tracking down rogue devices. A clearer indication of whether or not someone is being monitored with an AirTag will also be provided.
Because it relies on ultrawide band technology, which isn’t accessible in other smartphones, this feature won’t be available until later this year, and Apple has only revealed support for the iPhone 11, 12, and 13 so far.
This type of misuse is clearly a problem that needs to be addressed urgently. While it’s possible that Google aims to introduce an OS-level tracker detection to Android, it isn’t currently available to users who are being tracked.
What can you do to prevent AirTag tracking?
When an iPhone comes within range of an AirTag, the signal is instantly picked up and sent back to Apple using the Find My iPhone service. Because so many iPhones are in use at any given moment, it is relatively simple to locate an AirTag.
In addition to locating misplaced keys, AirTags may be used as a cheap and efficient weapon by stalkers. Much more so than if the offender used a Tile, which does not have the same reach as Apple’s network has.
Protecting yourself and flagging suspicious AirTags is a worthwhile investment of time and effort. Detecting if an AirTag is following you is covered in great length in our book, but let’s start with the basics.
Users of iPhones: Anyone with an iPhone 6S or later with iOS 14.5 or later can report suspicious AirTags. Make sure Item Safety Alerts are activated in the Find My app by tapping the Me symbol in the bottom right corner.
Users of Android: Your options are as follows: You can use Apple’s Tracker Detect(opens in new tab) app to find stray AirTags, but it requires Android 9.0 or above and requires you to manually scan for AirTags.
AirGuard is a good choice if you want something that runs on its own (opens in new tab). This will scan for stray AirTags on a regular basis and is compatible with devices as ancient as Android 5.0. Other firms’ trackers, including Tile, can also be detected by this app.
The rest of you: A specific tracker-detection app isn’t available if you lack a smartphone or your phone is too outdated to run it. In the event that your associated iPhone or iPad is disconnected from your AirTag for more than 24 hours, you’ll hear a beeping sound. Even if this method fails, it is preferable to being completely unaware of the beeping for long periods of time.
Detected an AirTag that wasn’t yours? Before you deactivate the AirTag, make careful to get the serial number, either via the detecting app or by removing the rear panel.
Simply push down on the back panel’s middle and turn counterclockwise. You may now remove the battery from the AirTag by prying it open with your fingers. Afterwards, you should call the police and provide them with the AirTag serial number and the incident details. Apple will be able to locate the owner of the AirTag with the help of the serial number.