A warning finger gesture should do the trick.
Apple announced on Thursday a series of updates to its AirTag tracking devices, once again making explicit what has long been known: attackers use these little discs to track their victims. With that in mind, the AirTag setup will soon include a warning that using AirTags to track people without their consent is – in many places, anyway – a crime.
“In an upcoming software update, every user setting up their AirTag for the first time will see a clear message that AirTag is intended to track their own belongings, that using AirTag to track people without their consent is a crime in many regions around the world, that the AirTag is designed to be detected by victims, and that law enforcement may request identifying information about the owner of the AirTag,” Apple explained in the Thursday blog post.
The move comes long after victim advocates cried foul of the cheap and easy-to-use technology, pointing out that the scale of Apple’s Find My network puts AirTags in a class of their own. In May 2021, Evan GalperinEFF Cybersecurity Director, expressed himself against those who dismiss the potential dangers of AirTags.
“People who hand-report the harassment potential of air beacons appear to be people 1. unaware of how domestic violence works 2. who belong to groups less likely to experience domestic violence,”
Apple also announced additional support documentation for those who may be victims of abuse enabled by AirTag.
Other updates announced Thursday include the clarification that “Unknown Accessory Detected” alerts will only appear if AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or “a third-party Find My network accessory” are detected nearby. an iPhone – not if an iPhone detects an unknown AirTag (this notification will say “AirTag Found Moving With You”).
Additionally, Apple reiterated that it is “actively working with law enforcement on all AirTag-related requests” and that “Apple may provide linked account details in response to a valid subpoena or request. of law enforcement.”
While important, it’s unclear whether working with the police after the fact is a solution that will solve widespread AirTag abuse.
You no longer need an iPhone to know if someone is secretly following you with AirTags
With Thursday’s update, Apple apparently recognizes that the steps it has taken so far to address harassment with AirTags – and the company has taken action, to be clear – are insufficient.
Perhaps a stern warning will succeed where other efforts have failed. We hope no one is holding their breath.
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