Apple airtags as stalker tools

Apple. Stalk different.

Apple airtags as stalker tools /img/stalking.jpg

Apple AirTags are small disks that you can attach to keys, purses, cars or anything else that may be lost or stolen. Then, if you want to know where that object is, you just have to find its AirTag on the same Apple app you can use to find your other Apple devices.

What could possibly go wrong?

Making everything, people included, easily trackable with no other skill than owning an iPhone and a few Euros to spare is obviously such a harmless idea that nobody could ever conceive abusing it. Except they do, of course. The Guardian recently reported that a woman discovered her ex-boyfriend was stalking her, thanks to an AirTag he had placed in the trunk of her car the last time they had met.

There are TWO things wrong here

The first and most obvious thing that is wrong here is Apple’s arrogant approach to public safety for basic safety testing practices, that is, from the Guardian,

“Launch it, monetise it and we can solve problems later. That doesn’t happen in any other industry. You don’t launch a car and fix the seatbelts months down the line - and that’s because there are strict laws and regulations, safety standards and testing. That just doesn’t exist in tech - and it’s a real gap."

Compare that with these wonderful quotes from the Airtag page at

  • “Privacy is built in. Only you can see where your AirTag is”
  • “If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert”

The huge, hugely obvious flaw in the first claim is that you are not just the only one who can see where your AirTags are. You also are the one who can put them wherever YOU want

At first sight, the other claim is even worst, because as it is written it is basically equivalent to saying:

“Everyone with an iPhone and AirTags may stalk you, but don’t worry! To know when that happens, give money to the same company that created the problem, and everything will be fine”

The only cold comfort here is that that claim isn’t really true, because you can detect AirTags even without an iPhone. That still means being forced to spend your money or time because other people were dumb enough to design or buy AirTags, but it’s better than nothing, is it?

Image source: Flickr, Dr. Matthias Ripp, CC-by 2.0