Sunday, June 23, 2024

Apple and Google agree on standard to alert people when unknown Bluetooth devices may be tracking them | TechCrunch

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Apple and Google announced on Monday that iPhone and Android users will start seeing alerts when it’s possible that an unknown Bluetooth device is being used to track them. The two companies have developed an industry standard called “Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers.” Starting Monday, Apple is introducing the capability in iOS 17.5 and Google is launching it on Android 6.0+ devices.

Users will now get an “[Item] Found Moving With You” alert on their device if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them, regardless of the platform the device is paired with. 

The move follows numerous cases of Bluetooth trackers like Apple’s AirTags being used for stalking. Last May, Apple and Google announced that they would work together to lead an industry-wide initiative to create a way to alert users in the case of unwanted tracking from Bluetooth devices. 

When Apple launched AirTags, they were quickly adopted as a way to track the location of everyday items like keys. However, the trackers also ended up being adopted by bad actors who use them to track people. To address this, Apple released a “Tracker Detect” Android app in 2021 to help people who don’t own Apple products to identify unexpected AirTags near them. The new industry standard announced on Monday takes an OS-level approach to addressing the issue of unwanted Bluetooth trackers. 

Bluetooth tag companies including Chipolo, eufy, Jio, Motorola, and Pebblebee have committed that future tags will be compatible with the new industry standard, Apple says.

Apple and Google say they will continue to work with the Internet Engineering Task Force, a standards organization for the internet, via the Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers working group to develop the official standard for this technology.

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