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It’s an AirTags gift from Apple for the Stalkers

It’s an AirTags gift from Apple for the Stalkers


Apple for the first time Steve Jobs, who introduced the iPod, promised to put “thousands of songs in his pocket.” Twenty years later, when Apple introduced the newest AirTags device, it promised to put a global tracking network in your pocket, purse, or anywhere else that might hide your small device. AirTags is a quarter-sized Bluetooth-enabled home beacon. They are marketed as a great way to track lost luggage or keys, but abuse can become the ultimate way to capture survivors of intimate partner violence.

Yes, stalkerware already exists on phones, and accounts at risk can provide your location. But there are also well-known defenses against these threats, whether it’s two-factor authentication, anti-virus software for phones, or even Apple’s own. guide to secure your accounts and settings when security is at risk.

The threat from AirTags is different. AirTags are easy to hide in the target’s purse or car, giving the abuser an easy way to track their location. It’s similar to the threat posed by other followers like this Teila, but on a much larger scale. Tiles have roughly the same weight and size as AirTags, with one key difference: the size of the network. When a tab is lost or stolen, Tile tries to communicate with nearby users by communicating with the owner by going back to their mobile or WiFi connection. It may take about a full day of Tile without entering a user’s Bluetooth range (30 feet), but try spending the day without reaching 30 feet from an iPhone or iPad. The tile measures tens of thousands of people. Apple has more than a billion.

Apple has included almost all iOS devices in its global tracking network by default. If you want to give up, you need to navigate the maze of menu options, which will be completely inaccessible to all who are technically skilled. Apple offers the opportunity, the excitement of authorization, but nothing else.

For people who use an iPhone, Apple has issued alerts about new software to warn of potential harassment. While the feature isn’t quite accessible, users can get some peace of mind by going to the settings menu and suspecting that they’re spying on unknown AirTags. If everyone who survives doesn’t have a phone or an Android device, they won’t be lucky. After being separated from its owner for 72 hours, AirTag will warn people with a tone of 60 decibels. the same volume as the dishwasher or temporary conversations. If the sound that is easily slowed down or avoided is outside the range of the paired AirTag phone, it will only turn off for three consecutive days, which means that abuse with survivors (which is very common) can often reset the clock.

Even when the abuser doesn’t live with the survivors, it’s three days of free harassment, followed by a warning that is easily lost and useless for hard hearing. The fact that Apple has not taken the safety of people outside the Apple ecosystem seriously cannot be justified. Apple doesn’t have enough to protect iOS users. Billions of Android users also deserve to be protected from harassment. The most important step that Apple should take is to create an Android app to alert users to nearby followers. You should not own an Apple device to know that you are exempt from Apple products. In addition, those of us with Apple devices should not be added to the monitoring network without permission. It should only add users who are selected by Apple. It’s a long and painful history to see harassment and abuse select seemingly harmful technologies. Congressmen frequently use location tracking services integrated into many family cell phone plans moving forward with legislation to alleviate the threat.

Apple needs to take domestic abuse and harassment seriously. It is likely that more than 10 million Americans will face bullying in their lifetime, while more than one million will face that threat each year. The rates of intimate partner violence are even more pronounced more than a quarter of women and 10% of men reported abuse. These are not invalid, it is an epidemic of violence that affects almost every corner of our world. When Apple doesn’t protect it alive, the consequences can be serious. Apple’s leadership should provide a central place for abused residents and experts in the development process by incorporating their opinions from the outset. Otherwise, the company will continue to make products that put people at risk rather than help them.


WIRED feedback publishes articles from outside contributors who represent a wide range of perspectives. Read more reviews here, and see our shipping instructions here. Send to op-ed opinion@wired.com.


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