AirTags misuse concern keeps growing, causing a university to study the degree of problems

Nine months ago, on April 30th, 2021, Apple released its new product, named AirTag. The main idea behind this product was to help Apple product consumers find their personal objects with the help of a tracker in AirTag. However, soon the device was being used for stalking and other such malicious activities. To deal with this, certain campaigns and groups have come forward to highlight the degree of problems it can cause.

Tech giant Apple loaded AirTag with two features meant to counter anyone trying to stalk the user. The first feature would notify the user if another tracker or an AirTag device is following them or moving along with them. The other feature will start emitting a loud audio alert if an AirTag gets too far away from the holder for a notable duration.

On the other hand, Samsung’s Smart Tags can allow the consumer to manually scan other unknown trackers in their vicinity. However, unlike AirTag, which would notify the user about it, Smart Tag gives no alert to its user. Tile trackers, another product from the same family, have nothing to offer in the name of protection. Tile Tracker manufacturers are looking forward to creating an application which works just like Samsung’s SmartTags.

Yet, the device is still used by stalkers after getting features that were supposed to prevent this. According to Erica Olsen, National Network director, who works on how to end domestic violence, said that she believes that if all these companies agree to work together and frame a device that can be used only for the purpose it was meant to fulfill, they can control the device from being involved in breaching someone’s privacy.

On the other hand, Alexander Heinrich, a Ph.D student at the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, has shared the findings collected by researching on AirTags. According to Alexander, Apple’s AirTags cannot scan for other devices in the background without being enabled by the user, whereas AirGuard, an application created by Alexander, has the ability to search for devices in a close radius without the user's approval.

The information collected by Alexander and his partners while researching AirTags includes how strong the signals were of nearby devices as well as the number of notifications received by the device's owner.

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