On Tuesday, Alphabet-owned Google and Apple announced a collaboration to stop unlawful tracking. While Apple’s AirTags and Bluetooth are excellent for tracking items you frequently misplace, they also have the potential to be used to track people and fuel domestic abuse.

All Bluetooth location-tracking devices must notify consumers of any unauthorised tracking on both iOS and Android smartphones, according to a draft with specification that the firms have jointly submitted.

This is an important step to safeguard people’s privacy and guarantee that they have control over the information Bluetooth devices collect. The draft with specification has the endorsement of Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee.

A technical standard that will notify users if they are being followed by an unidentified tracker device has been proposed by Apple and Google. The Internet Engineering Task Force (IEFT) has published this draught, and Apple encourages additional participation from other parties. “review and comment over the next three months.”

“Unwanted tracking detection can both detect and alert individuals that a location tracker separated from the owner’s device is traveling with them, as well as provide means to find and disable the tracker,” reads the draft document.

The firms added that the specifications had backing from organisations including Samsung Electronics and consumer electronics company Tile in addition to input from device manufacturers and a number of safety and advocacy groups. Since the introduction of AirTags, privacy experts and law enforcement have claimed that some users abuse the technology.

According to them, some people may use the device for criminal or malicious purposes.To help individuals locate missing belongings, AirTags are designed to be tucked inside or attached to bags, wallets, keys, and other objects.

Apple had released an Android detection software in 2021 to help customers discover nearby AirTags or other similar item trackers that might be travelling with them unknowingly in an effort to increase privacy.

According to Olsen, “These new standards will minimize opportunities for abuse of this technology and decrease the burden on survivors in detecting unwanted trackers. We are grateful for these efforts and look forward to continuing to work together to address unwanted tracking and misuse.”

Apple and Google both announced earlier in 2020 that they would prohibit the use of location tracking in apps that employ a contact tracing technique designed to slow the coronavirus’s spread.

“We built AirTag and the Find My network with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — and we continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is being used as intended,” Ron Huang, vice president of connectivity and sensing at Apple says in the statement.  “This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”

Dave Burke, vice president of engineering for Android at Google, stated “Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industry wide action to solve”.


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