Companies must work together to prevent exploitation of AirTag, Tile and other trackers, says privacy expert

Apple entered the electronic trackers market with the launch of AirTag in April 2021. Unlike third-party trackers from Tile and Samsung, Apple offered several privacy and safety features on AirTag to prevent the misuse of the device. However, an alarming number of reports of nefarious use of AirTag for stalking or theft have made news, in the past several months.

A privacy expert believes that misuse of trackers is not only Apple’s problem to handle. And to end the stalking epidemic, all companies, Apple, Samsung, and Tile, must work together to provide the same protection against malicious tracking across platforms, iOS and Android.

AirTag

Apple needs to push the same AirTag privacy features to Android users as offered by iOS users

AirTag is the only tracker in the market which offers safeguards against stalking like an alert on the iPhone when an unknown tracker is detected, AirTag pings when separated from the owner, and instructions to disable an unknown AirTag. And the tech giants say that more privacy features will be released this year including smarter Find My tracking. 

But these features are not available on Android and for privacy experts, that is an issue. Director for the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Project, Erica Olsen said that Google and Apple need to work together to offer the same features to all users, and Samsung, Tile, and Apple need to provide each other with information on misuse their trackers to come up with solutions. 

“People are unfortunately very clever with misusing products, and they’ll continue to find ways,” said Olsen. “So I think it’s going to be a constant kind of battle to continually evolve the product. I think that there are going to be limitations as long as the solutions remain with individual companies

Developing more comprehensive protections for Android users is a good start. But to reach a real answer, Olsen says companies need to cooperate by sharing information about how their products are being misused. She points to the Coalition Against Stalkerware, an organization formed in 2019 to provide education and resources for combatting stalkerware. It counts the cybersecurity firms Malwarebytes, Kaspersky and Avast as partners – an example of how competing companies can work together to overcome privacy issues.

AirTag

As reported by CNET, the creator of the AirTag detecting app “AirGuard” on Android and a researcher and Ph.D. student at Germany’s Technical University of Darmstadt’s Secure Mobile Networking Lab, Alexander Heinrich said that lack of privacy support on Android pushed him to do something for billions of users.

“On day one, I felt like OK, I have to do something for Android because also people were calling that out immediately,” said Heinrich. “Because they saw, OK, on iOS they have integrated it, but there’s nothing for Android.”

Apple has introduced the “Tracker Detect” on Android to scan for unknown AirTags or trackers. But users have to manually initiate the scan. 

About the Author

Addicted to social media and in love with iPhone, started blogging as a hobby. And now it's my passion for every day is a new learning experience. Hopefully, manufacturers will continue to use innovative solutions and we will keep on letting you know about them.

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