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    Apple and Google add alerts for unknown third party Bluetooth trackers in a bid to increase safety

    Apple and Google announced that both iOS and Android devices will now have the capability to alert users if they are being unknowingly tracked by third-party Bluetooth trackers. This is due to an industry specification jointly worked on by Apple and Google called Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers  (DULT), which enables devices to detect and alert users across platforms and devices if a Bluetooth tracking device, like Apple’s Airtag, is tracking them. The initiative aims to mitigate the misuse of these devices, that are typically used to track one’s own belongings. Apple has implemented the specification for iOS 17.5 and Google has begun rolling it out on Android 6.0+ devices.

    In a press release, Apple stated users would receive “[Item] Found Moving With You” alert on their device if an unidentified Bluetooth tracking device was detected to be moving with them over time, “regardless of the platform the device is paired with.” According to Apple, users can also view the tracker’s identifier, have the tracker play a sound to help locate it, and access instructions to disable it and stop it from updating its location.

    Google also plays a sound on the tracker to help users locate it and provides instructions to physically disable the tracker . Additionally, it provides users with a map on their device to understand where the tracker travelled with them, said Google’s press release.

    Google also offers an option for users to proactively search for unknown trackers by manually directing their device to scan their surroundings for trackers. The device will then provide a list of trackers that are separated from their owner’s device, in the user’s proximity.

    Several other tracking device manufacturers like Jio, Motorola, Chipolo, eufy, and Pebblebee have also committed to ensuring that their future tagging devices will be compatible with the specification.

    Why it matters

    While Bluetooth trackers like Apple’s Airtag were initially designed to track one’s personal belongings, they have been misused to surreptitiously track others, posing a major safety concern. This was particularly a challenge prior to the implementation of DULT, as devices were not able to alert users if they were being tracked. This was further complicated by the fact that devices would need to detect trackers that did not belong to the same platform.

    Thus, Erica Olsen, senior director of the Safety Net Project of the National Network to End Domestic Violence said that they have been advocating for “universal standards to protect survivors – and all people – from the misuse of bluetooth tracking devices.”

    She also stated that these standards, by detecting and alerting users of these trackers, can “minimize opportunities for abuse of this technology and decrease burdens on survivors in detecting unwanted trackers.”

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    The post Apple and Google add alerts for unknown third party Bluetooth trackers in a bid to increase safety appeared first on MediaNama.

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