Tile tracker adds new indetectable mode, claims it helps victims of stalking

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2023
A new Anti-Theft Mode for Tile trackers has been launched, that will completely prevent it from being found by anyone else than the user if the owner has registered photo ID with the company.




All of the recent attention on the stalking possibilities of small tracking devices arose because of Apple's launch of its AirTags -- and all of its built-in anti-stalking features. In the ensuring controversy, though, long-time tracking company Tile announced it would be adding some anti-stalking measures.

A year later, those slight initial measures have now been added to, with Tile at the same time also claiming that Apple's safety measures have actually reduced the effectiveness of using trackers for security.

"Unlike other Bluetooth trackers on the market, namely AirTags," says the company in a press release, "Tile does not notify nearby smartphone users when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is traveling with them."

"Some competitor products go as far as to issue an audible beep once the tracker has been separated from its owner," it continues, "making it clear that a tracker is present and enabling thieves to find it with precision."

New Anti-Theft Mode

Tile's initial response to stalking controversy was to create an app called Scan and Secure, which allowed iPhone and Android users to scan for nearby Tile trackers -- once they suspected one was present.

Tile's new release, though, adds an optional Anti-Theft Mode that specifically prevents that same app from finding anything.

"This is accomplished by making Tile Bluetooth trackers operating in Anti-Theft Mode undetectable by Scan and Secure," says the press release. Tile users can activate Anti-Theft Mode on any Tile tracker in use now, including Tile-enabled partner products."

Tile CEO Chris Hulls argues in a blog post that there are reasons the company is "taking a different approach."

"When news coverage on the stalking risks of using Bluetooth trackers exploded," writes, "Tile immediately jumped into action to build protections for consumers, even those who are not our customers."

Describing "well-intentioned but hasty changes made by Apple, us at Tile, and others," he claims "current anti-stalking features, practically speaking, don't work."

"To better deter stalking, we need to increase the likelihood that stalkers are caught and then dramatically up the consequences when they are," says Hulls. "Today the punishment for stalking is often a slap on the wrist."




Tile's solution to stalking

By default, Tile trackers will remain discoverable by the Scan and Secure app. If someone wants to enable the new Anti-Theft Mode, they have to:

  • Provide government-issued ID to verify their identity

  • Allow Tile to share the data with law enforcement

  • Agree to pay $1 million if they are later convicted of stalking using Tile devices

Tile does not state who gets the $1 million. While that does "dramatically up the consequences" for a stalker, it's less clear how it in any way increases the likelihood they will be caught.

Presumably the thinking is that they can be tracked through that government ID, much as Apple can track AirTags back to their owners. However, that only works at best when a victim physically discovers the Tile.

Even then, it's not clear that the victim is expected to be able to do anything. It appears Tile's efforts center on fining the stalker once everyone else from the victim through law enforcement and the courts, have found them.

Hulls also undermines the apparent benefit of being able to hide Tile devices from Tile's own Scan and Secure feature, by saying the firm is "shocked" at how little it is used.

"Out of our millions of active Tile users, we see the feature being used on average 52 times a day across our entire iOS and Android user base -- this is not a typo!" he says.

That would suggest, though, that users either don't know about the feature -- or have had no reason to suspect they are being tracked in the first place.

The new Tile Anti-Theft Mode has begun rolling out to users, and should be available to all customers within weeks.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,298member
    Am I understanding this correctly??? They made it easier for someone to use their devices to illicitly stalk an unsuspecting person and are pitching this as a good thing?!
    lolliverPetrolDavebadmonkMadbum
  • Reply 2 of 10
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    A new Anti-Theft Mode for Tile trackers has been launched, that will completely prevent it from being found by anyone else than the user if the owner has registered photo ID with the company.




    All of the recent attention on the stalking possibilities of small tracking devices arose because of Apple's launch of its AirTags -- and all of its built-in anti-stalking features. In the ensuring controversy, though, long-time tracking company Tile announced it would be adding some anti-stalking measures.

    A year later, those slight initial measures have now been added to, with Tile at the same time also claiming that Apple's safety measures have actually reduced the effectiveness of using trackers for security.

    "Unlike other Bluetooth trackers on the market, namely AirTags," says the company in a press release, "Tile does not notify nearby smartphone users when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is traveling with them."

    "Some competitor products go as far as to issue an audible beep once the tracker has been separated from its owner," it continues, "making it clear that a tracker is present and enabling thieves to find it with precision."

    New Anti-Theft Mode

    That audible bleep requires a speaker in the device, and whether Tile should have had that feature before or not, it couldn't now retrospectively add it to millions of existing devices.

    So Tile's initial response to stalking controversy was instead to create an app called Scan and Secure, which allowed iPhone and Android users to scan for nearby Tile trackers -- once they suspected one was present.

    Tile's new release, though, adds an optional Anti-Theft Mode that specifically prevents that same app from finding anything.

    "This is accomplished by making Tile Bluetooth trackers operating in Anti-Theft Mode undetectable by Scan and Secure," says the press release. Tile users can activate Anti-Theft Mode on any Tile tracker in use now, including Tile-enabled partner products."

    Tile CEO Chris Hulls argues in a blog post that there are reasons the company is "taking a different approach."

    "When news coverage on the stalking risks of using Bluetooth trackers exploded," writes, "Tile immediately jumped into action to build protections for consumers, even those who are not our customers."

    Describing "well-intentioned but hasty changes made by Apple, us at Tile, and others," he claims "current anti-stalking features, practically speaking, don't work."

    "To better deter stalking, we need to increase the likelihood that stalkers are caught and then dramatically up the consequences when they are," says Hulls. "Today the punishment for stalking is often a slap on the wrist."


    image

    Tile's solution to stalking

    By default, Tile trackers will remain discoverable by the Scan and Secure app. If someone wants to enable the new Anti-Theft Mode, they have to:
    • Provide government-issued ID to verify their identity
    • Allow Tile to share the data with law enforcement
    • Agree to pay $1 million if they are later convicted of stalking using Tile devices
    Tile does not state who gets the $1 million. While that does "dramatically up the consequences" for a stalker, it's less clear how it in any way increases the likelihood they will be caught.

    Presumably the thinking is that they can be tracked through that government ID, much as Apple can track AirTags back to their owners. However, that only works at best when a victim physically discovers the Tile.

    Even then, it's not clear that the victim is expected to be able to do anything. It appears Tile's efforts center on fining the stalker once everyone else from the victim through law enforcement and the courts, have found them.

    Hulls also undermines the apparent benefit of being able to hide Tile devices from Tile's own Scan and Secure feature, by saying the firm is "shocked" at how little it is used.

    "Out of our millions of active Tile users, we see the feature being used on average 52 times a day across our entire iOS and Android user base -- this is not a typo!" he says.

    That would suggest, though, that users either don't know about the feature -- or have had no reason to suspect they are being tracked in the first place.

    The new Tile Anti-Theft Mode has begun rolling out to users, and should be available to all customers within weeks.

    Read on AppleInsider
    Using an ID to verify a user for Anti-Theft Mode (v tracking and being usable for stalking) is the only way I see this working, so I'm glad they're doing it. I can still see this being abused, but at least it keeps it from being as commonplace.

    I doubt Apple will add that feature until 1) they feel that the divide between anti-theft and stalking is secure enough and 2) they see themselves losing enough business to Tile for this feature.
  • Reply 3 of 10
    mike1 said:
    Am I understanding this correctly??? They made it easier for someone to use their devices to illicitly stalk an unsuspecting person and are pitching this as a good thing?!
    Think Different!
  • Reply 4 of 10
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    mike1 said:
    Am I understanding this correctly??? They made it easier for someone to use their devices to illicitly stalk an unsuspecting person and are pitching this as a good thing?!
    I suppose "easier" is relative, but since you need to give your ID and a separate face scan when you set it up that's not exactly a clandestine maneuver for a would-be stalker.
  • Reply 5 of 10
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,413member
    Hey, at least they took the death penalty off the table ...

    I cannot imagine why anyone in the known universe of intelligent life would sign up for this. Anyone using a Tile tracker for loss prevention would be at the whim of a jury to determine whether a Tile tracker was or was not being used for stalking purposes versus loss prevention, with a million dollar liability on the line. A stalker could place a Tile tracker on an item of value, say a watch case, camera case, binoculars, etc., and then place the item+tag in the stalking victim's vehicle. The perpetrator could then claim that the tag was being used purely for loss prevention, not stalking. Way too much gray area. I'm sure Apple thought about all of these scenarios and decided just not to go there at all and partially neutered the stalking and loss prevention capabilities of AirTags rather than expand the acreage of the legal minefield.
    muthuk_vanalingamappleinsideruserbadmonk
  • Reply 6 of 10
    XedXed Posts: 2,619member
    dewme said:
    Hey, at least they took the death penalty off the table ...

    I cannot imagine why anyone in the known universe of intelligent life would sign up for this. Anyone using a Tile tracker for loss prevention would be at the whim of a jury to determine whether a Tile tracker was or was not being used for stalking purposes versus loss prevention, with a million dollar liability on the line. A stalker could place a Tile tracker on an item of value, say a watch case, camera case, binoculars, etc., and then place the item+tag in the stalking victim's vehicle. The perpetrator could then claim that the tag was being used purely for loss prevention, not stalking. Way too much gray area. I'm sure Apple thought about all of these scenarios and decided just not to go there at all and partially neutered the stalking and loss prevention capabilities of AirTags rather than expand the acreage of the legal minefield.
    That's an excellent example of a legal minefield with opening up this tech for anti-theft without notifying people with the tracker that could be stalked.
    PetrolDavebadmonk
  • Reply 7 of 10
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,677member
    mike1 said:
    Am I understanding this correctly??? They made it easier for someone to use their devices to illicitly stalk an unsuspecting person and are pitching this as a good thing?!

    Of course it's a good thing... a million good thing$, baby!
  • Reply 8 of 10
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 2,677member
    dewme said:
    Hey, at least they took the death penalty off the table ...

    I cannot imagine why anyone in the known universe of intelligent life would sign up for this. Anyone using a Tile tracker for loss prevention would be at the whim of a jury to determine whether a Tile tracker was or was not being used for stalking purposes versus loss prevention, with a million dollar liability on the line. A stalker could place a Tile tracker on an item of value, say a watch case, camera case, binoculars, etc., and then place the item+tag in the stalking victim's vehicle. The perpetrator could then claim that the tag was being used purely for loss prevention, not stalking. Way too much gray area. I'm sure Apple thought about all of these scenarios and decided just not to go there at all and partially neutered the stalking and loss prevention capabilities of AirTags rather than expand the acreage of the legal minefield.

    Not only that but also way too easy to frame someone, by taking their anti-theft Tile, "finding" it, and accusing the person of tracking/stalking you.
    Madbum
  • Reply 9 of 10
    MadbumMadbum Posts: 536member
    mike1 said:
    Am I understanding this correctly??? They made it easier for someone to use their devices to illicitly stalk an unsuspecting person and are pitching this as a good thing?!
    Yes they did. Idiotic
  • Reply 10 of 10
    MadbumMadbum Posts: 536member
    I see Tile going bankrupt soon 

    serious question, is Tile being run by people with no brains?
    edited February 2023
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