Across the nation, Apple AirTags are reportedly being used by stalkers.
The tech company’s product — which retails starting at $29 — is a “supereasy way to keep track of your stuff,” according to Apple’s website. “Attach one to your keys, slip another in your backpack. And just like that, they’re on your radar in the Find My app, where you can also track down your Apple devices and keep up with friends and family.”
AirTags can connect with Apple devices ranging from iPhones to iPads and Macs. Beyond recovering lost goods, AirTags have been used to track cars, boats, backpacks, and other items that criminals may steal. However, some have used the technology to track other people, as NBC News reported:
Police in Colorado, Georgia, Michigan and Texas have reported the misuse of AirTags, including for domestic stalking and trying to steal cars. The sheriff’s office in Twin Falls, Idaho, warned residents this month that AirTags pose a danger, especially to potential victims of domestic violence. And one reported attempt at unwanted tracking described on TikTok has received more than 27 million views.
AirTags have a legitimate use that consumers may well embrace, but their misuse means they also fit in with an expanding market for surveillance technology as people buy other cloud-connected devices such as cameras to keep tabs on one another and to commit or deter crimes.
“People who are engaging in unhealthy or abusive behavior suddenly became aware of a sophisticated, inexpensive and enormously effective tool,” California lawyer Adam Dodge told NBC News.
Anticipating the security problems, Apple recently made software updates to AirTag — including one that notifies users when an unknown AirTag appears to be planted on their person.
On Friday night, for instance, one unidentified victim living in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, received a notification from his or her iPhone noting that an “unknown accessory” was detected nearby. NBC 10 Philadelphia explained:
The victim then received a map of the area showing that at 7:19 p.m. that night, the device was activated near the Movie Tavern and then traveled with the victim until they returned to their home at 8:38 p.m.
The victim then looked out of their front window and spotted an unknown vehicle sitting just down the roadway outside the home. When the victim approached the vehicle it slowly drove away. As the vehicle drove away, the victim received another message on their phone stating the device was driving eastbound before it was disconnected once the vehicle was out of sight.
“The battery life of an Apple Air Tag can last for more than a year before needing to be replaced,” a spokesperson for the Lower Providence Police Department wrote, according to the outlet. “Even though Apple Air Tags are designed to discourage unwanted tracking, it can still occur. We urge everyone to be vigilant of their surroundings and if you get a notification like the one reported in this incident, call 9-1-1 immediately.”