Apple and Google have collaborated on a proposed industry specification aimed at combating the security risks associated with AirTags and other Bluetooth tracking devices. The companies announced Tuesday that the new standard requires the implementation of “unauthorized tracking detection and alerts” on Android and iOS devices.
The proposed specification lists some best practices for the makers of Bluetooth tracking devices, which are believed to help prevent the “misuse” of location trackers, putting users at risk of stalking, harassment, and theft. As outlined in the document, the unwanted tracking detection should “detect and alert individuals” when a tracker separate from its owner travels with them and also provide instructions on how to find and disable the device.
Other companies making similar tracking devices, including Tile, Chipolo, Eufy Security, Samsung, and Pebblebee, are already on board with the proposed standard.
Since the release of Apple’s AirTag in 2021, privacy advocates have raised concerns about the device’s security. Last year, The edge spoke to Erica Olsen of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, who said tracking devices had been a problem for years before the AirTag was released. Apple responded by improving the unknown AirTag alerts on the iPhone and creating an app that scans for unwanted trackers on Android. In today’s statement, Olsen says: “These new standards will minimize the potential for misuse of this technology and reduce the burden on survivors in detecting unwanted trackers. We are grateful for these efforts and look forward to continuing to work together to address unwanted tracking and abuse.”
“We built AirTag and the Find My Network with a suite of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking – an industry first – and we continue to make improvements to ensure the technology is used as intended,” said Ron Huang, vice president of Apple. of sensing and connectivity, says in a statement. “This new industry specification builds on AirTag protections and, through collaboration with Google, represents a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking on iOS and Android.”