Apple’s AirTag comes with safety features that have been implemented with anti-stalking in mind. However, some sellers on eBay and Etsy are selling Silent AirTags with deactivated speakers, raising concerns about malicious use.
‘Silent AirTags’ with removed speakers make the trackers harder to spot
Apple added two privacy features in AirTag that notify users if they are being tracked. Users on iPhone receive alerts while Android users can download an app that tells them if they have an unknown AirTag on them. Another privacy feature is a speaker that pings once an AirTag is separated from its owner. However, several listings for AirTags with a deactivated speaker have surfaced recently on eBay and Etsy.
The modified AirTags look identical to a normal AirTag but they do have a small hole cut below the battery to disconnect the speaker. Sellers on both platforms claim that the modified trackers, dubbed “Silent AirTag,” are not aimed to be used for stalking purposes. An Etsy seller behind one of the listings, who was selling the Silent AirTag for $77.50, recently removed the item from their store and told PCMag:
The intent of this modification was to cater to the several requests of buyers interested in my other AirTag product who were interested in fitting an AirTag to their bikes, pets and power tools. These requests led me to listing it as a product on Etsy, albeit without a great deal of traction. The vast majority of sales shown on my Etsy profile are from sales on my modified slim AirTag, designed to unobtrusively fit inside a purse or wallet.
“The AirTag is very easy to make ‘silent,’ either by electrical modification or simply muffling the noise with a clamping force. I can’t stop people from modifying AirTags themselves (there are various posts online instructing how to do so), but I can at least cease providing a tool that has the potential for malicious use.
An eBay seller with a similar listing claimed the purpose of the Silent AirTag is that “it doesn’t keep beeping when away from you,” such as “if left in car or bike or with a family member.” The modified tracker also “reduces the chance of a thief being notified of its hidden location.” Note, Apple’s AirTag begins emitting a sound between eight and 24 hours after it is separated from its connected device.
There have been a ton of cases surfacing in recent months which see Apple’s AirTags being used for malicious purposes including vehicle thefts and stalking cases. On the flip side, the trackers are also helping people protect their property from thieves. Most recently, a German researcher used one to expose a secret intelligence agency.
In addition, Apple recently published a new Personal Safety User Guide amid rising concerns of its AirTags being used to stalk people or steal properly. The guide details how users can keep themselves and their personal data safe while using AirTags, iPhones, and other products.