Monday, Feb 14, 2022, 14:33 Hardware

Apple Announces New Measures To Combat AirTag Stalking – Here Are The Changes

The AirTags are a reliable and easy to use means of finding lost items for the more forgetful among us. The Apple ecosystem allows users to easily find such "Find My" connected devices quite easily via a rough GPS position on the map – for devices indoors, precision searches are even possible. It's unfortunately frequently the case with new technologies that they are repurposed for less than benevolent intentions. Almost immediately following the market launch of Apple's search labels, numerous reports popped up about how common AirTag use was becoming for stalkers. It had hardly ever been easier to track potential victims – the simple toss of an AirTag into an unsuspecting user's bag or positioning within a rarely used part of the car now sufficed.

How Apple Plans To Combat "AirTag Stalking"
Apple's earlier measures – which included an audible alert when an AirTag owner had been away from their smart tracker for too long, managed to restrict the problem somewhat. However, the measures also included a warning notification to nearby Apple devices that served to cause some confusion: "Unknown accessory detected". Cupertino has now announced a new plan to better combat and approach the problem. For example, the confusing notification is now being exchanged for a more meaningful one. Now, the notification clearly reads "AirTag Found Moving With You". A map then indicates how long the foreign AirTag has accompanied the person. Apple then provides the user with information about what to do to defend themselves from stalking.



How To Deactivate Foreign AirTags
  • Hold the foreign AirTag against your iDevice until a notification pops up.
  • Click on the notification – a window will pop up with information such as the AirTag's serial number and the last four numbers of the owner's registered phone number.
  • This information is meant to provide the identity of the stalker to the user with the foreign AirTag, should the two know each other.
  • Apple also recommends users to take a screenshot of the data for documentation.
  • It is also possible for users to disconnect the AirTag by tapping on "What to do if you get an alert that an AirTag or find my network accessory is with you".
  • Another option for deactivating the foreign AirTag is to open it and remove its battery.
  • Should the user suspect stalking or any other such criminal activity, it is best that they contact the police immediately.

Other Steps Planned To Prevent AirTag Misuse
In addition to the new instructions and clearer warnings, Apple also wants to take further measures, although these will require a little bit more time to materialize. Eventually, precise location will also be revealed for foreign AirTags and an alarm should sound on every iOS device in the area – as opposed to just the AirTag itself. Currently, some AirTag abusers have simply shut down the tiny speaker on the smart tracker to avoid any audible alarm. The volume of the new alarm will also increase on all devices nearby based on the AirTag's position in order to assist in more quickly finding the misappropriated device. Cupertino has yet to announce an exact date for the arrival of these features or any instructions as to how Android users might better protect themselves.

AirTag Stalking A Criminal Offense – Apple's New Explanation
Those who purchase new AirTags will now also receive a new warning after having properly set up their new smart tracker. The warning dictates that the AirTag product's sole purpose is for finding lost items and that any other use for things such as tracking people or vehicles is considered a criminal offense in most countries. The AirTags are also designed to protect potential victims of stalking, such that it is very easy for the victim to identify the offender and notify the police.

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