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New York Attorney General Issues Alert Over Apple AirTag Tracking Threat

Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf Balogun
Yusuf is a law graduate and freelance journalist with a keen interest in tech reporting.

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Recently, the American tech giant Apple announced a number of changes coming to the AirTags tracker that may help reduce unnecessary tracking and stalking; given the changes, today, the New York Attorney General, Letitia James has issued a consumer (in New York) warning with safety recommendations to protect them from malicious Apple AirTags.

The new Letitia James warning echoes many of Apple’s own advice, which includes listening for unexpected sounds, paying attention to objects found near you notifications on iPhones, and using Apple’s Tracking and Detecting app for Android phones, manually scanning AirTags, and keeping Apple devices updated.

A tiny line in the alert states that not all unfamiliar AirTags are harmful and that they are sometimes misplaced by users when their devices are lost.

If New Yorkers come across misused AirTags on their property, they should immediately call the Attorney General’s Office’s Internet and Technology Directorate to register a complaint.

In his wordings: “Across the United States, Apple AirTags are being misused to track people and their belongings, causing harm. Tracking people without their knowledge or consent is a serious felony that my office will not tolerate. I urge All New Yorkers to keep an eye on their belongings and follow the tips we provide to stay safe. The safety of New Yorkers is my number one priority, and we will continue to do everything in our power to protect New Yorkers.”

Although tracking with GPS and Bluetooth-based tracking devices isn’t new, Apple’s item tracker has gotten a lot of attention because of its built-in warning system. People may not be aware that they are being tracked with typical trackers, but the AirTag is meant to send alerts.

AirTag’s detractors also object to the device’s simplicity of use and acquisition and the huge Find My network that allows AirTag to be monitored practically anywhere.

The American tech giant has been taking a number of steps to combat undesired AirTag tracking. Apple shortened the time it took for an AirTag to start playing once it was removed from its owner in June of last year. The AirTag used to make sounds after three days, but now it takes between eight and twenty-four hours.

Apple published the “Monitoring Detection” app in December, which allows Android users to scan AirTags to ensure there aren’t any AirTags around, and then Apple revealed some new precautions last week in response to continuous allegations of AirTag tracking and misuse.

When users set up AirTag in the future, a warning will appear: AirTag is tied to Apple ID, and using AirTag to follow people is illegal. Apple will also make it plain that it will collaborate with law enforcement to track down people who utilize AirTags for criminal purposes.

Apple will allow iPhone 11 and subsequent models to use the Pinpoint Find feature to track nearby AirTags later this year, and the notice will include an audible sound for individuals who can’t hear adjacent AirTags.

The American tech giant is also working on making AirTags louder and updating the alert system to tell users of AirTags that may be traveling with them earlier. Apple has stated that it will continue exploring AirTag security and is listening to user comments and developing to improve AirTag.

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