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Apple AirTags, Bluetooth-powered tracking devices intended to help users find personal belongings such as keys and wallets, have had unintended consequences after countless stories surfaced that they were in some cases used to for the purpose of harassment and harassment.
Accounts are prevalent on social media platforms like TikTok, with victims recounting a similar sequence of events: a phone notification that you’re being followed with an AirTag, followed by panic and confusion, a review of one’s belongings or under one’s car to discover the unwanted device and a final warning to share with friends and loved ones. The technology is about a quarter in size, making it difficult to dig up in some cases, increasing the risk of harm when used for harassment or harassment.
Following disturbing stories of people being harassed or, in some cases, people testing it themselves and reporting how easily the device could be used for malicious purposes, Apple announced in February that it would upgrade the technology to make it more secure and discourage potential perpetrators from using the device.
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One of Apple’s first actions was to add a warning when first setting up the device, warning users that using technology for harassment has legal ramifications. “Using this object to track people without their consent is a crime in many parts of the world,” the warning reads. “This item is designed to be detected by victims and to allow law enforcement to request identifying information about the owner.”
The latest update is a less polite move to deter would-be stalkers from causing harm: making AirTags “as loud as possible”. By making the noise emitted by AirTags louder, victims will be able to find the device more easily in cases where a predator has hidden it particularly well. Apple also plans to upgrade tracking alerts to let people know sooner in the event they are being tracked.
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Despite Apple’s new and promised updates, some fear the technology is still leaving people vulnerable. What if you don’t have an iPhone? Bingo.
Apple users receive the notification directly on their phone if they are tracked by an AirTag. But without an iPhone, users would have to download the Apple Tracker Detect app and perform a manual scan if they suspected something was wrong. What if you don’t have a smartphone at all? The technology is only a year old, so it might be a long way to go before Apple tweaks the product to make sure it’s safe for all users. In the meantime, be vigilant about suspicious behavior.