Apple introduced a new product in April designed to help people keep track of their “stuff” – their backpacks, their cellphones and even their pets.
Starting at $29, Apple AirTags are affordable and easy to use. A small white disc, approximately the size of a half-dollar, can be attached to your keys, your wallet or your dog’s collar.
When used for its intended purpose, the tracking device is a great product.
For example, a domestic abuser could hide an AirTag on or under a car to track his victim.
Isabelle Younane, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs for Women’s Aid, told the Daily Mail, “Domestic abuse is not always physical. Stalking and tech abuse are very real and dangerous forms of abuse — with survivors who are being stalked by their ex-partner often at risk of greatest harm.”
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, some perpetrators utilized lockdown measures as an opportunity to monitor survivors more closely and escalate abuse – including putting tracking devices on cars,” she said. “Women’s fears about being tracked by new technology must be heard and taken seriously.”
The report said U.S. artist and TikTok user Kayla Malecc received a notification from the Find My app that said, “An AirTag is moving with you” and “The location of this AirTag can be seen by its owner.”
As seen in the video below, Malecc searched her vehicle, first on the outside and then on the inside, and ultimately found the white disc.
“I think I want to cry more now that I found it. … My heart feels like it’s going to come out of my throat,” she said.
“Somebody, while I was parked somewhere, came up to my car and slid it in. And I would have never seen it, but a little bit of the white was poking through,” Malecc said.
found the air tag. #fyp
Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooks Nader told of a disc being slipped into her coat pocket at a bar in TriBeca, New York, on Wednesday night, according to the Daily Mail.
In a video, she said she wanted to warn other women about these AirTags. “Ladies, check your bag, coat, pockets, and surroundings. Disturbed isn’t even the word,” she said.
Nader said she had been tracked for five hours before she was notified.
“I never thought anything like this could happen to me and it did. If this does happen to you and you find an AirTag, immediately call the police and Apple to track the serial number back to the perpetrator,” she told viewers.
WXIA-TV in Atlanta ran a segment last month about these devices, reporting that “instead of using the AirTag to track items, some are using them to track people. Police reports of unwanted tracking have surfaced in Atlanta, Gwinnett County and Cobb County.”
One Georgia woman told the outlet she had received a notification on her iPhone that “an unknown accessory was seen traveling with her.”
She said, “I could see on the map in the Find My app that it had tracked or followed me.”
Lubbock, Texas, resident Leah Dollison said a mechanic had found an AirTag under her car. “The message specifically said this AirTag was seen traveling with you,” Dollison said.
“There was, like, a long red line going to Idalou and then coming back, and that was me dropping off my children,” she said. “I started freaking out.”
Dollison called the police after receiving an alert message, but most officers are unfamiliar with this technology.
“This is my first instance of running into something like this,” one Atlanta officer said.
Another officer interviewed during the segment said AirTags are legal in the state of Georgia as long as the car was located in a public space and the device was placed on the outside of the vehicle.
Apple knew stalking was a potential problem with this technology. A company representative told the Daily Mail that these devices are designed with a “set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking” and Apple will be making improvements as needed.
The company’s website says, “If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert. After a while, if you still haven’t found it, the AirTag will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there.”
But this raises some questions.
First, is an iPhone required to receive an alert? Will an individual with an Android be notified?
The Daily Mail reported that “in December 2021, Apple released Tracker Detect in the Google Play Store. It allows Android users to proactively scan for item trackers that are no longer with their owner.”
Sounds a little inconvenient to me.
Second, when will the alert will be received?
According to the report, the Find My app “is designed to send you an alert as soon as you get home (your main location on the App) and by the end of the day if you’re staying somewhere else.”
This feature didn’t exactly help Brooks Nader when she was followed home by an individual who had slipped an AirTag into her coat pocket.
This product might be useful for some people, but it can put others in danger. Some women have even asked Apple to recall the AirTags.
Unfortunately, it’s too late for that. Other companies have quickly marketed trackers of their own.
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