Apple Airtags Are Being Used to Stalk People
Police throughout the US have recorded complaints of the tracker devices being used to follow unknowing individuals.
Because the patriarchy just won’t let us have nice things, the police are receiving a growing number of reports of Apple’s airtags — tracker devices you can place on luggage or personal items to keep track of them from your iPhone — are being used instead to keep tabs on people.
Launched in April 2021, AirTags are small keyrings designed to be attached to luggage or keys, allowing you to track an object to within 0.1ft. The coin-sized GPS device is a stalker’s dream.
‘The police said they didn’t know what to do’
Amber Norsworthy from Mississippi went to the police last December, after her phone showed a notification that an unknown device had been following her movements. She logged onto her phone, and saw that the ‘Find My’ app showed her entire route. “ It said ‘the last time the owner saw your location was 15:02’ and I was like, ‘that’s now, I’m at home’,” Amber told the BBC. She rang the police, who told her they didn’t know what to do. Two months later, she still hadn’t managed to find the tracker, although she suspects it is in her car.
Tech companies bear the responsibility of thinking through the full consequences of their creation, and cannot turn a blind eye when they are used for nefarious purposes. Which is basically what Apple did. When they released AirTags, they explicitly said “AirTags are designed to track items not people”. As a safeguard, people with an iPhone are alerted if an unregistered AirTag is moving along with them. An app has also been made for Android users. Still, many people are saying such safeguards do not go far enough. The alarm often comes too late, having already provided the owner of the AirTag with crucial information about the victims’ habits.
This is why we need more women in the development space and in tech more generally. Because most of us would imagine right away the risks of such an invention, and understand when the risks outweigh the benefits.