Sunday, May 19, 2024

Apple and Google Teamed Up to Prevent Bluetooth Stalking

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Bluetooth trackers can make plenty of things in your life easier — including, but not limited to, being able to trace things like keys and luggage so that they never get lost. Unfortunately, they’ve also made it easier for malicious actors to use the same technology to stalk you. It’s a concern that’s led a growing number of states to make Bluetooth tracker stalking illegal.

The existence of Bluetooth stalking has also prompted technology companies to look into the issue. Last year, Google and Apple announced a collaborative effort to crack down on the practice, and this week, those efforts appear to have come to fruition. Apple announced that the two companies have developed a new industry specification known as Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers.

Devices using iOS 17.5 and Android 6.0+ will have this capability moving forward. As Apple explained, users will receive an alert “if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them over time.” Users will also be able to get information about the tracker and play a sound in order to locate it.

Apple’s announcement also revealed that the manufacturers of a number of Bluetooth trackers would work to make their products compatible with this standard, including Chipolo, eufy, Jio, Motorola and Pebblebee.

It’s a big step forward in curbing one of the more unsettling practices of Bluetooth technology. There’s also a pragmatic side to it: earlier this year, a judge paved the way for Apple to face a class action lawsuit over tracker stalking. This certainly feels like a case where doing the right thing and the fiscally responsible thing are one and the same.

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