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Apple AirTags are increasingly being used to stalk women, according to police records

When Apple released its AirTag, it was meant for tracking your lost items. However, unscrupulous characters have been misusing these devices to track people without their consent. Sadly, the majority of the stalking victims are women, according to police reports obtained by Motherboard.

Technology is meant to make life easier, but when it falls into the hands of the criminally minded, it can cause a lot of havoc. This has been the story of the AirTag, a small coin-shaped gadget equipped with a speaker, Bluetooth connectivity, and battery. The AirTag was supposed to help you avoid losing your everyday items like keys, purses, phones, bicycles, etc. However, some people have found less noble uses for Apple’s AirTag by stalking unsuspecting victims with them.

AirTags are very good for stalking, as they can report their locations on a map. All a stalker has to do is affix an AirTag to the victim’s car, and they will be able to monitor the victim’s movements. They are cheap ($29 only) and so easy to set up and use.

As the device has grown in popularity, so have police complaints of stalking involving AirTags. To see how prevalent this problem has become, Motherboard sent out requests for info for complaints involving AirTags to dozens of the largest police departments in the US. The scope covered eight recent months.

Motherboard got 150 replies, and in 50 complaints, women told the police they started receiving notifications of an AirTag they didn’t set up following them. Half of the women could pinpoint a male suspect in their lives that would want to monitor their movements to harass them, including ex-partners, husbands, and bosses.

In one case, a woman reported a man who had been harassing her had planted an AirTag in her car. The man allegedly promised to make her life like hell. Another woman reported finding an AirTag in her vehicle multiple times and suspected her ex, who had assaulted her in the past. Her suspicion was supported by the fact that the suspect kept showing up in the same places as her.

Another woman reported hearing a beeping sound every time she left her house. She eventually found an Apple AirTag in her car, and on confronting her ex, the man admitted to fixing the AirTag to determine whether she was ‘cheating.’

In many of the cases, seeing their ex appearing anywhere they went was a red flag. Some of the women feared for their lives and even had protective orders against their stalkers.

However, not all the cases involved an ex, as some women suspected their current partners or husband behind the stalking.

The problem with the AirTags is that only people with an iPhone or other Apple devices can receive notifications from unfamiliar tags. Android users, for instance, have no way of being notified of the presence of unknown AirTags.

Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EFF, told a Motherboard reporter, “That was a completely ridiculous way to launch a new device, without having taken into account its use in a domestic violence situation. But specifically, the blind spot that Apple had was people who live outside of the Apple ecosystem.”

Another security expert, Albert Fox Cahn, said, “Stalking and stalkerware existed before AirTags, but Apple made it cheaper and easier than ever for abusers and attackers to track their targets. Apple’s global device network gives AirTags unique power to stalk around the world. And Apple’s massive marketing campaign has helped highlight this type of technology to stalkers and abusers who’d never otherwise know about it.” 

Meanwhile, Apple responded to a request for a comment on the story by referring to an earlier press release. “AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products. Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag. It’s why the Find My network is built with privacy in mind, uses end-to-end encryption, and why we innovated with the first-ever proactive system to alert you of unwanted tracking.” 

However, many experts believe Apple has not done enough to prevent the use of AirTags in stalking.

Written by HackerVibes

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