Apple’s Airtags has taken the world by storm.
Airtags were released back in April 2021. In short, Airtags are tracking devices that users can attach to their personal items, which have a chance of getting misplaced easily, like keys or bags. The device relies on Apple’s ‘Find my’ network, which updates the Airtag’s location through Bluetooth signals emitted by any Apple device (such as an iPhone).
Airtags have been pretty convenient and easy to use for most users. It has made things extraordinarily suitable and easy for users who misplace their belongings to find them as it updates its location in real-time.
However, Airtags pose a significant privacy concern. There have been many cases where people have reported that they’ve been tracked by Airtags that don’t belong to them. And since Airtags are so small (just 1.26 inches, to be exact), they can be placed literally anywhere!
Stalkers can be highly creative when it comes to using Airtags. They can place them on the victim’s bag, car, coat, or any of his/her belongings. Since the Airtag’s location is updated in real-time, the stalker owning the Airtag can find out where the victim is at all times and even where he/she lives.
Apple has tried to combat this concern. Airtags are built with a speaker inside. When they are removed from their associated iPhones for a given amount of time, between eight and 24 hours, they’re supposed to start beeping. The company has even built an app for Android phones called ‘Tracker Detect’, which allows android users to scan for nearby Airtags or other Find My Devices separated from their owners.
However, one can now find multiple listings on Etsy and eBay where ‘silent’ Airtags (Airtags with a disconnected speaker) are sold. This is a huge privacy concern for many as the only warning system that was present is basically removed. The only way to discern whether an Airtag has been configured to be silent or not is checking whether or not there is a small hole beneath the device’s battery. The small hole indicates that the Airtag has its speaker disconnected.
In recent months, many women around the United States have reported finding unusual AirTags on their cars or persons after leaving public areas such as pubs, shopping malls, or movie theatres. AirTags have also been linked to automobile thefts in Toronto and Detroit regions.
Recently, Apple has said that they will launch a major update that will add new privacy warnings and a tracking code to the Airtags’ sensors to improve the privacy of its devices and peripherals. Individuals putting up AirTags will see additional warnings in the software upgrades, reminding them that tracking people without their agreement is illegal in many parts of the world. According to the report, Apple created AirTags so that law enforcement may seek to identify information about the owner.
While the new updates will surely add a layer of security and privacy to its users, Apple still has no solution to counter the disconnected speaker from the silent airtags. With the rise in cases involving Airtags, The future of it looks uncertain, and one can only wonder about what changes will Apple make to its near-perfect tracking device.