Apple, Google Join Hands to Curb Unwanted Bluetooth Tracking
Apple and Google have today proposed a new industry specification to curb the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking.
The new specification will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.
Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have also expressed support for the specification jointly submitted by Apple and Google.
“We built AirTag and the Find My network with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry,” said Apple SVP Ron Huang.
“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.”
In addition to incorporating feedback from device manufacturers, input from various safety and advocacy groups has also been integrated.
“Android has an unwavering commitment to protecting users, and will continue to develop strong safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices,” said Google VP Dave Burke.
“Today’s release of a draft specification is a welcome step to confront harmful misuses of Bluetooth location trackers,” said Alexandra Reeve Givens, the Center for Democracy & Technology’s president and CEO. “CDT continues to focus on ways to make these devices more detectable and reduce the likelihood that they will be used to track people.
The specification, which has been submitted as a draft via a standards development organization Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), is expected to be implemented by the end of 2023.
The production implementation of the specification will then be included in the form of alerts across future iOS and Android releases.
There have been countless incidents of unwanted tracking reported all over the news, most commonly related to the Apple AirTags.
Last year, a New York Times article highlighted how Apple’s AirTags are being used to track people and even high-end vehicles so they can later be located and stolen.
Even Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Brooks Nader was once followed for around hours in New York City by a stalker who slipped an Apple AirTag into her coat pocket.
Apple is also battling several lawsuits in the U.S. regarding the AirTags, including women alleging the AirTags were used by their ex-boyfriends to stalk them.