DV experts warning over Apple AirTags stalking security tested

DV experts warning over Apple AirTags stalking security tested

Apple’s new AirTag is incredibly cool, and if anything, works too well.

With this large-button-sized gadget, losing your keys, travel bags, or your car in a shopping centre, might actually be a thing of the past.

Some Apple users have even attached it to their cats and dogs.

All you need to do is connect it with your phone, and it will literally point you in the right direction of whatever item you’re tracking – just like a kids game of hot and cold.

“Every Apple device will be constantly searching for Bluetooth signals and these little AirTags are emitting a Bluetooth signal so it’s constantly updating its location based on any device around it,” technology expert Trevor Long said.

“The people walking past don’t even know they’re part of the search party, but you’ve found your keys.”

If social media is any indication, the device is going to be very popular, and that’s where the concern comes in.

Critics said the size and cost of the AirTag (just $45) opens the door for some users to do the wrong thing.

Domestic Violence New South Wales said in 85 per cent of cases of abuse, devices are used to stalk or track.

“We know that one in six women can confirm that they’ve been stalked by technology,” CEO Delia Donovan said.

“This is now another weapon for perpetrators.”

There are laws in all states of Australia which prevent stalking and tracking people, and also protections like Apprehended Violence Orders.

But the Protective Group said it comes across a case everyday where the victim is unaware they are being “monitored”, and in most scenarios, the stalker already knows the location of their home and work.

Apple has built a number of security features into the device like alerting someone that a tag is near them.

A Current Affair tested the AirTag and found it took over two days to get an alert.

The owner of the tag knew the A Current Affair reporters home and work locations and was able to watch as the reporter had lunch, went to the supermarket, gym and the pub – travelling a distance of 25km.

While trackers have always been an issue when it comes to domestic violence the profile of other devices has been relatively low when compared to the high profile of Apple.

Now that Apple has entered the market, some fear it’s a game changer because the AirTag is not only easy to use but is also easy to get.

Apple told A Current Affair in a statement: “we take customer safety very seriously … AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking— a first in the industry”.

Having the latest software and an Apple phone as opposed to an Android, can make a big difference, but that is cold comfort for anyone who is on the other end of an AirTag.

If an AirTag user believes there is someone using their AirTag who doesn’t have their authorisation the AirTag can be disabled.

Users can tap it on their iPhone or other compatible devices and instructions will direct users to disable the AirTag from there.

Aired on 9News on 24/05/2021.



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