Apple’s Tile-like AirTag trackers are useful for finding lost items, but stalkers have been using them to track potential victims too. Now, Apple has finally spoken up about this more nefarious AirTag usage.
“AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products,” a new Apple statement notes. “Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag. It’s why the Find My network is built with privacy in mind, uses end-to-end encryption, and why we innovated with the first-ever proactive system to alert you of unwanted tracking.”
Apple has long benefited from one-sided reporting on its products, so it’s been interesting to see the mainstream news pick up on the AirTag stalking stories. For example, we seem to hear about every instance in which an Apple Watch saves someone’s life despite not being a medical device, but never about the many more times someone with an Apple Watch just dies of a massive heart attack with no warning.
Apple doesn’t issue statements like this lightly as it doesn’t like to admit to problems with its products. But don’t worry, Apple fans. This one isn’t Apple’s fault either. As noted above, stalking is a “societal problem,” and Apple simply wishes that “others also provide the sorts of proactive warnings in their products” that Apple does with AirTag.
To its credit, Apple is working with law enforcement on “all AirTag-related requests [it has] received,” unlike, say, all the law enforcement requests it has received to crack open iPhones owned by terrorists. “Based on our knowledge and on discussions with law enforcement, incidents of AirTag misuse are rare,” it claims, as if the bad press invented itself. “However, each instance is one too many.”
More specifically, Apple will make changes to AirTag and Find My to put this nonsense behind them so they can focus on all the good they’re doing for the world. Soon, there will be new privacy warnings during setup, updates to the alerts that users receive to indicate that AirPods have been traveling with them, and updated support documentation. And later this year, Apple will introduce other updates that will help victims find unwanted AirTags more precisely, play sounds with alerts, refine unwanted tracking alert logic, and tune AirTag’s sound.
Now can we kindly get back to reporting on all those lives that Apple Watch is saving? Come on, people.
Tagged with AirTag