Apple and Google are working together to create a new anti-stalking standard that aims to prevent tracking beacons like AirTag from being misused. The two tech giants recently announced a proposed industry specification that would make Bluetooth location-tracking devices compatible with unauthorized tracking detection systems and alerts across both iOS and Android.
Protecting users from stalkers: Apple and Google collaborate on new anti-stalking industry standard
While tracking beacons like AirTag were originally designed to help users find lost items, they have been increasingly used for malicious purposes, such as stalking. The proposed standard would make it so that iPhone and Android users would receive anti-stalking notifications, regardless of whether the tracker is an AirTag or another device compatible with Android.
The new industry specification builds upon the protections already built into AirTag by Apple. According to Ron Huang, Apple’s Vice President of Sensing and Connectivity, “We built AirTag and the Find My network with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — and we continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is being used as intended.”
Dave Burke, Google’s Vice President of Engineering for Android, said, “Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industrywide action to solve. Android has an unwavering commitment to protecting users, and will continue to develop strong safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices.”
Other companies have expressed support for the initiative, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee. The proposed standard was submitted as an Internet-Draft through the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a standards development organization. The specification is open to review and comment from external parties for three months, after which Apple and Google will address feedback and make adjustments.
A production implementation of the specification is expected by the end of 2023, which will then be supported in future releases of both iOS and Android. The collaboration between Apple and Google marks a significant step forward in protecting users from the potential misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices and highlights the importance of industry-wide action to solve this issue.