Apple and Google have announced a partnership to address the problem of unwanted tracking through devices like AirTags and Tile. The companies have proposed industry standards to “help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location trackers for unwanted tracking.”
The proposal has received support from Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, Anker Eufy, and Pebblebee, as well as a number of safety and advocacy groups. The draft specification includes best practices and instructions for manufacturers of Bluetooth trackers on how to implement Unauthorized Tracking Detection and Alerts for iOS and Android.
Apple and Google have submitted the draft specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force, a leading standards development organization. Over the next three months, interested parties will have the opportunity to review and influence the documents. Apple and Google will deal with the feedback from the comment period and then work together to develop a production version of the spec by the end of the year. Future versions of iOS and Android will support this technology.
“Bluetooth trackers have created enormous benefits for users, but they also provide the potential for unwanted tracking, which requires industry-wide action to resolve,” Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of engineering for Android, said in a press release. Stable Android is committed to protecting users, and will continue to develop robust safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat abuse of Bluetooth trackers.
“We built AirTag and the Find My Network with a set of proactive features to prevent unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — and continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is used as intended,” said Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensors and Connectivity. “This new industry specification builds on AirTag protection, and by collaborating with Google leads to an important step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”
There have been many cases of Bluetooth trackers being used to stalk people over the past few years, with bad actors planting such devices on unsuspecting victims. People are not the only ones who can be inadvertently tracked by Bluetooth devices. According to reports, thieves used it to steal high-end cars.
Since AirTags debuted in 2021, Apple has rolled out some anti-stalking features. For example, he upgraded the devices to make as loud a noise as possible at some point after they were separated from their owners. The Android app can also detect AirTags and other Find My-compatible tracking devices that may be implanted on a person.
It was reported last year that Google was exploring the idea of detecting a bluetooth tracker at the operating system level, which now looks very likely to happen in the coming months. The company plans to reveal more details about its efforts to combat spam tracking at I/O next week. Google is also said to be working on its own Bluetooth tracker, which it may reveal at I/O.
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