Google, Apple Working to Curb Unwanted Tracking

AirTag tracking by Apple

Google and Apple, announced that they have jointly submitted a proposal that is meant to help the industry deal with unwanted tracking. The industry-wide specification is a draft and has been submitted via the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).

What this means is that the two companies are seeking reviews and comments from all relevant parties. The period for review is currently set at 3 months. So far, the initiative has received support from Samsung, Tile, Chipola, eufy Security, and Pebblebee.

Tracking devices used by Ex-partners

Location tracking devices are used to track personal items like luggage, wallets, keys, and even toys.

They have been numerous cases of misuse reported. People have used the devices to stalk ex-partners as well as celebrities raising serious safety concerns. A former Love Island star claimed an AirTag was used in tracking her at a Los Angeles airport.

Apple is facing a lawsuit in a San Francisco court filed by two women who allege AirTags were used in tracking them. The women claim the tracking was done by their ex-partners.

“The National Network to End Domestic Violence has been advocating for universal standards to protect survivors — and all people — from the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices. This collaboration and the resulting standards are a significant step forward. NNEDV is encouraged by this progress,” said Erica Olsen, the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s senior director of its Safety Net Project.

Apple, too, has recognized the potential for the devices to be misused. Currently, iPhone users are alerted in the event a location tag not associated with them is traveling with them. The company has also introduced an app to detect unwanted AirTag tracking for Android devices.

After the conclusion of the review period, Apple and Google will work together and will release a production implementation of the specification for unwanted tracking alerts by the end of 2023. The specification will be implemented in future versions of iOS and Android.