Apple and Google join forces to crackdown on fight against AirTag stalking
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Apple and Google have joined forces in an attempt to combat unwanted tracking with AirTags and similar Bluetooth gadgets. The two companies behind the iPhone and iOS system and the software in Android phones submitted their proposals on Tuesday, April 2.
The proposal aims to set standards to combat secret surveillance using the gadgets which were initially created to help people locate luggage during travelling or help locate items that might often get misplaced, like keys.
The proposal also has the backing of tech company Samsung, which sells Android smartphones, and creators of similar tracking products including Tile, Choplo and Pebblebee.
Apple’s AirTag costs £35 on the Apple website and has become a popular product with Apple fans since its launch in 2021. However, the device has seen many safety concerns after the device proved easy to use.
In America police have been reporting that stalkers are using them to track people who don’t realise they’re being tracked. In a joint statement, Google’s vice-president of engineering for Android, Dave Burke said: “Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industry wide action to solve.”
Apple has also recognised the potential for their devices to be misused with Roy Huang, Apple vice president of sensing and connectivity saying: "This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android."
The company has responded by introducing new features including notifications that warn iPhone users if a location tag that is not associated with their devices is travelling with them. There’s also an app on Android devices that helps detect unwanted AirTag tracking.
Both Apple and Google hope that the plans will be in place by the end of the year and have submitted a draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force, which creates standards for the internet. The plans would be distributed through software updates to phones.