It’s been clear for a while that bad actors are on other people without their knowledge to track their locations. Trackers have been as well. Now, has obtained some police data that casts some light on extent of the issue.
The publication requested records mentioning Apple AirTags (which the company announced a year ago) from dozens of police departments from across the US. The requests covered an eight-month period.
Motherboard received 150 reports from eight police departments and found that, in 50 cases, women called the cops because they received notifications suggesting that someone was tracking them with an AirTag or they . Half of those women suspected the tags were planted in their car by a man they knew, such as a current or former romantic partner or their boss.
The vast majority of the reports were filed by women. There was just one case in which a man made a report after suspecting that an ex was using an AirTag (which costs just $29) to stalk him. Around half of the reports mentioned AirTags in the contexts of thefts or robberies.
Just one instance of AirTag-related stalking would be bad enough. Fifty reports in eight jurisdictions in eight months is a not insignificant number and there are likely other cases elsewhere that haven’t been disclosed. Engadget has contacted Apple for comment.
Although iPhones already automatically detect unwanted nearby AirTags, it will do more to mitigate the issue. Later this year, it will rollout an AirTag precision tracking feature for iPhone 11, 12 and 13 to help people more easily find unknown trackers. It will also inform iPhone users more clearly when someone may be using an AirTag to follow them.
In December, Apple to help people using phones powered by that OS detect errant AirTags. Tile updated its with a similar feature. But those require users to both be aware of the threat posed by unwanted trackers and to scan for them manually. Last week, however, it emerged that Google is exploring , which could help keep people safe should it roll out the feature.
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