(San Francisco) Apple and Google on Tuesday proposed a new technical standard supposed to alert people tracked via small devices initially sold to find their keys, luggage or other personal effects.
Apple’s AirTags, coin-sized gadgets equipped with Bluetooth technology, are popular with travelers but have also been implicated in harassment cases.
Connected to a mobile application, they make it possible to follow in real time the geographical position of the goods to which they are attached, but also of the humans who transport it, sometimes without their knowledge.
iPhones already notify their users if they detect a nearby AirTag (or Apple wireless earbuds) that doesn’t belong to them while on the move.
The proposal of the two technology giants should serve to harmonize the technical specifications of Bluetooth beacons from other companies to alert individuals regardless of the operating system of their smartphone (iOS for Apple and Android for Google).
Samsung, Tile and other similar gadget makers “have signaled their support” for this industry standard, according to the joint statement from Apple and Google.
“Bluetooth devices have immense practical benefits for users, but they can also potentially be used to track people without their knowledge. (A problem) that is up to the entire industry to solve,” Dave Burke, vice president of engineering for Android, said in the statement.
In the United States, several women began legal proceedings against Apple last year, after being tracked via an AirTag and harassed.
In June 2022, a 26-year-old man was killed by his girlfriend who suspected him of infidelity and tracked his location via an AirTag in the state of Indiana, according to court documents.
And in February, Robert Reeves, spokesman for the police in Irving, Texas, told AFP that the city’s police station had already handled several cases involving the famous Apple accessory, in which the victim and his follower knew each other.