mini rant: AirTag – Apple works with Police to turn in stalkers…yeah right! Course they will

Apple AirTag plus Belkin holder, they do scratch
Great design but very easily scratched – as you can see

AirTag – Apple works with Police to turn in stalkers…yeah right! Course they will

 

Detailed Apple AirTag Review.

Just about every tech reviewer who first reviewed the Apple AirTag pointed out that it can be used for nefarious purposes namely, tracking people and tracking other people’s possessions. It’s obvious.

It was so obvious to Apple who say they incorporated this in their designs of AirTag.

Of course, they would say that, wouldn’t they!

Anyway, today Apple has very clearly announced that they will cooperate with Police in certain limited circumstances to identify the stalker/perpetrator in some criminal investigations. How? Well, each AirTag has its unique identifier and Apple knows which Apple ID that has been paired to. Thus when the stalker’s AirTag has been found it is possible for Apple (and only Apple) to find out who it belongs to. Apple HAS said that they will cooperate with the police on these matters for relevant cases but you can be sure that these ‘relevant’ cases will be few and far between.

We have been actively working with law enforcement on all AirTag-related requests we’ve received. Based on our knowledge and on discussions with law enforcement, incidents of AirTag misuse are rare. (Apple)

Translation: “incidents are rare” and Apple’s co-operation with Police is by definition even rarer. When something is even rarer than rare then it means they might have done it once. Let’s be generous…twice.

Still, it’s good news and this should rightly deter the more serious stalker. Although I would imagine that a half-intelligent stalker could conjure up some way around this like, say, getting another fake Apple ID and another iPhone.

I am a little concerned by the whole tone of Apple’s announcement. It’s more about a focus on unwanted tracking rather than criminal activity and Apple conjures up several annoying & harmless cases of unwanted tracking where, for example, you may have lent me your house keys with your AirTag on them. Grrr my life has ended, a message has just popped up on my iPhone saying I have someone else’s AirTag with me…oh, that’ll be the keys I’ve just borrowed. Jeez. Panic over. I’m still alive.

These are genuine cases and probably are mildly annoying in a mundane way, though I would tentatively suggest that such cases don’t merit anywhere near as much inclusion in a press release as getting stalkers in jail. Just my 2 cents.

A cynic would say that it would have been better for Apple to water down the announcement even further by saying how they saved a cute, cuddly puppy from an unexpected brush with a cat. Oh. Wait a minute they (almost) did

With the help of an AirTag placed inside a medical kit, a parent whose child lost critical medicine on the bus was later able to find it. (Apple)

Young children and puppies relatively equally pull on the heartstrings of many of us.

Nomad Goods Apple Watch Foilio case and brown active strap pro and airtag
NOMAD AirTag key fob cover…sweet and super-high quality (a NOMAD Apple Watch strap and iPhone Folio cover also shown)

 

Get NOMAD Apple Accessories: Leather key fob for AirTag by NOMAD and more.

 

Not thought through

Unwanted tracking has long been a societal problem, and we took this concern seriously in the design of AirTag. (Apple)

Apple says they incorporated anti-stalking measures into the initial design, which is true. However, they clearly didn’t correctly test the stalker scenario as they now admit their initial logic was wrong (not tested)

Refining unwanted tracking alert logic: Our unwanted tracking alert system uses sophisticated logic to determine how we alert users. We plan to update our unwanted tracking alert system to notify users earlier that an unknown AirTag or Find My network accessory may be travelling with them. (Apple)

 

I would suggest that the best that Apple could have done would be to include in the alert the owner’s Apple ID and maybe the owner’s approximate usual location. These alerts appear when you are unknowingly travelling with someone else’s AirTag and when the owner is also not there. Perhaps such information could be recorded on your iPhone as a record for the police to later see.

To Apple:

You have a great product in AirTag. I have several of them and I like them. I only use them for simple purposes like finding my keys, I really don’t care if you put more of my personal info into my AirTag if it helps others get my AirTag back to me.

You will be pleased to know that I don’t stalk my family members although do confess to using ‘Find My’ to sometimes see if my family members are almost home (they are specifically notified about this) and to see where their devices are (the latter being to find their lost device). I don’t need AirTag for the purpose of stalking I can already (with permission) track my family members iPhones much more easily and MUCH more accurately. But a stalker would never use an expensive and large iPhone to covertly track someone…AirTag is perfectly sized, much cheaper and well-engineered for that purpose.

Apple: Sort it out. You have the resources.

Get NOMAD Apple Accessories: Leather key fob for AirTag by NOMAD and more.

 

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3 thoughts on “mini rant: AirTag – Apple works with Police to turn in stalkers…yeah right! Course they will

  1. typical press release of someone who want to control future collateral damage due bad deaign choices and proprietary solutions

  2. Most of the discussion I’ve noticed on tags has been well-intentioned people making improvement suggestions, followed in rebuttal on how the suggestions would likely create a different privacy pitfall.

    Tracking and privacy are probably just incompatible.

    On the plus side Alphabet, Amazon, and Microsoft have thrown in heavy with their copies.

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