Report finds AirTag enables 'inexpensive, effective stalking'

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Comments

  • Reply 41 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    mcdave said:
    So, AirTags are better for stalking because they’re better for tracking.
    That’s kinda the problem, yes. Some technologies have a real problem with the double edge. Being concerned about it IS a rational thing.
  • Reply 42 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    The article also left out the fact that if the iPhone is not running iOS 14.5 or later, the 'missing' AirTag won't alert the nearby phone.  Not everyone installs the latest updates and some people still have phones that can't run iOS 14.  So chalk those people up with the Android users that won't know if an AirTag has been secretly planted on them.  It is also scary to know that you can be tracked for 3 days without being warned.

    Why this vital information was left out of the review is disturbing.  At least the Ars article mentioned this significant issue with AirTags.  One could be planted on your car and you would never know it.  It is also documented on how easy it is to disable the speaker too.
    Which makes it problematic, in terms of being a target, for people who don’t want to/cannot afford to replace their devices every time Apple obsoletes them. My iPhone 6s COULD run iOS 14.5, but I have Macs that would lose iCloud Safari synch with my iOS devices if I updated beyond iOS 12.x. My Macs are stuck at High Sierra. I’m a perfect “target” for this scenario. Apple giveth & Apple taketh away, arbitrarily. Now there’s this lack of “hey, you might have a stalker” notification? Great. Thanks. 
  • Reply 43 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member

    Speed1050 said:
    It’s not much of a story, really. 

    Anybody who wants one of these for nefarious reasons will have already bought a £30-40 GPS tracker with a SIM that relays live data without any safeguards, and is no bigger than an Airtag. You can also listen in, in one way comms, with a lot of them too. 
     
    Freely available, with 100 hours battery life will cover most use cases for the wrong-uns to use. Sure the Airtags could be used this way, but they aren’t breaking any new ground here. 
    With a SIM? It’s cellular? That means the user needs another cellular account for these devices? That’s an extra step and expense.
  • Reply 44 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member

    So this guy is complaining even though the AirTag both notified him on his iOS device and sounded an audible alarm, as it was supposed to. The failure was “ it did not work as well as HE HAD HOPED”, this should just have read Apple hater finds excuse to slam AirTag. 
    This is the language that makes you guys sounds like fanatics and cultists.
  • Reply 45 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member

    entropys said:
    No doubt if Amazon releases a “firetrack” tag this dude will liken it to the second coming.
    What’s your reason for this belief? Because you guys have some kind of “us vs them” cultish thinking going on here...?
  • Reply 46 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    Naiyas said:
    I have several and have been using them for a variety of purposes, though mostly for keys as I can’t tell you how many sets have had to be replaced over the years. Some of them are used as luggage tags and one in particular is used on my child’s school bag (they are 4.5 years old).

    In the later use case I can tell you for certain that the three day notification period is for audible alerts only. My partner sometimes takes our child out for play dates without me and after a short time (a couple of hours) gets a notification on their iPhone that an AirTag is “following” them in close proximity. They know what it is so it’s not an issue and we share our location with each other anyway.

    But even in the few days we have had the AirTag it has already served it’s purpose as we had to locate the school bag as it was left behind somewhere in a zoo. Rather than retracing our steps we simply opened Find My and saw it had been handed in at lost property, so from a real world use case perspective it has performed flawlessly.

    As for those complaining about “stalking” why would I use an AirTag for that purpose? The device is directly associated with an AppleID so it’s dead easy to file charges once it is found. If I was going to stalk someone there’s plenty of other trackers available that can be bought and used, without the ability to be so easily identified, for about the same price as an AirTag 4-pack and also don’t need to rely on the iPhone network for its data. Hell if you really wanted to track someone you could just mirror their SIM card and use that to monitor them via the cell network using equipment that can be acquired for a reasonable cost if you look hard enough.

    This is just another case of Apple bashing for the sake of it and focussing on the negative without regard to practical realities.
    This IS the examination of practical realities. Apple is a very notable company whose products are very popular. They are therefore more likely to be considered for use by more people. Casual abuse of products by people who don’t think about consequences applies here. Do you think stalkers are always going to stop at “my tag is associated with my AppleID”? People doing extreme shit don’t usually think about consequences.

    Are there other products out there for this type of use? Yes. Are they as up front in people’s awareness? Maybe. Maybe not.
  • Reply 47 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    You know Apple must be onto a winner product when the FUD articles come out. It was the same b/s when the Apple Watch was being written up as a target for thieves because the sports band is easy to remove.

    The report is b/s for a variety of reasons:

    • The majority of stalking crime involves persons who are known to each other. However to stalk with a tracking device requires a stalker to get close enough to personally install it on the victim which isn't feasible. If the stalker knows the victim's location then tracking with an electronic device isn't the problem. In the hypothetical situation where the victim doesn't know the stalker, the same issues apply: getting close enough, and having already known the victim location. (Whereby the stalker can just follow the victim anyway.)
    • The device works best when placed in the open. This is why the accessories are all designed to leave the tracker exposed. One can't install the device to something like the underside of a car and expect it to work, the device is still limited by EM physics.
    • The tracker itself is linked to the owner. Stalking with this is like leaving your ID at a crime scene.
    • It's a highly publicised tracking device and alerts the victim, while being trivial to disable. Anyone that finds it will know what it is, especially when it's beeping at them.
    • If the software is smart enough to notify the user about being followed, it's smart enough to not publish that location.
    So stalking isn't the issue with this device, the issue with this device is that if an item is intentionally taken/stolen the tracker can be easily disabled. So it makes sense to attach it to low value items such as keys. For more expensive items the route is either an accessory that gives the tracker permanence or purchasing items which already include the hardware (such as the VanMoof bikes and most Apple devices.)

    Side note: It would only be "inexpensive" if it didn't require a $600 iPhone just to get started.
    Consider this: You’ve just given a great example of the list of “reasonable doubt” arguments a domestic abuser might use to cast doubt on (and gaslight) his domestic abuse target/victim’s concerns, and dismiss said concerns to anyone the victim goes to for help.
  • Reply 48 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    mike1 said:
    You know Apple must be onto a winner product when the FUD articles come out. It was the same b/s when the Apple Watch was being written up as a target for thieves because the sports band is easy to remove.

    The report is b/s for a variety of reasons:

    • The majority of stalking crime involves persons who are known to each other. However to stalk with a tracking device requires a stalker to get close enough to personally install it on the victim which isn't feasible. If the stalker knows the victim's location then tracking with an electronic device isn't the problem. In the hypothetical situation where the victim doesn't know the stalker, the same issues apply: getting close enough, and having already known the victim location. (Whereby the stalker can just follow the victim anyway.)
    • The device works best when placed in the open. This is why the accessories are all designed to leave the tracker exposed. One can't install the device to something like the underside of a car and expect it to work, the device is still limited by EM physics.
    • The tracker itself is linked to the owner. Stalking with this is like leaving your ID at a crime scene.
    • It's a highly publicised tracking device and alerts the victim, while being trivial to disable. Anyone that finds it will know what it is, especially when it's beeping at them.
    • If the software is smart enough to notify the user about being followed, it's smart enough to not publish that location.
    So stalking isn't the issue with this device, the issue with this device is that if an item is intentionally taken/stolen the tracker can be easily disabled. So it makes sense to attach it to low value items such as keys. For more expensive items the route is either an accessory that gives the tracker permanence or purchasing items which already include the hardware (such as the VanMoof bikes and most Apple devices.)

    Side note: It would only be "inexpensive" if it didn't require a $600 iPhone just to get started.
    I agree with most of your points. #3 is certainly the most compelling.
    Regarding your side note, the fact is hundreds of millions, if not billions, of people already own the $600 iPhone. They're not buying this as a $629 tracking system.
    Domestic abuse scenarios involve an abuser already being known to the victim. The abuser can offer a hundred arguments for why their tag was on their target without the target being told about its presence beforehand. Being associated to an AppleID isn’t something that will discourage, let alone stop, its misuse by someone who is already engaged in domestic abuse and likely already dismissing their victim’s concerns.

    “Yeah she had my tag in her bag. Maybe the kid thought it was hers and put it in their mom’s bag when they left”

    or

    “maybe she thought it was hers”

    or

    “we live together; stuff gets mixed up sometimes”

    etc etc etc.

    This stuff already happens with existing tracking features in phones, shared passwords, etc. Authorities are well known to be dismissive of domestic abuse situations that don’t provide obvious injuries or a willingness to press charges, and there’s all kinds of abuse that goes on under those circumstances.

    These tags are just one more tool for potential misuse. It’s GOOD to do a reality check on how tech can be misused and what can be done to constrain abuse.
  • Reply 49 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    flydog said:
    Washington Post is an ignorant publication. By their logic, even easier to Stalk  with Tile 

    The article doesn't state that Tile is better or that AirTags are worse, nor does it argue that Apple has made it easier to stalk people or that tile-type trackers should be banned. The article examines the anti-stalking features implemented by Apple, and opines they are not sufficient. People are extrapolating too much from an article they have not read, or perhaps they read it and lack the mental capacity to process and understand the information. 
    Precious was criticized. That’s all that matters. The strawman arguments will be built and set on fire because some fans have a weird compulsion to try to help defend this multi-billion-dollar corporation.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 50 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    dewme said:
    The good + evil duality of human nature is impossible to avoid. What would make AirTag as a product so amazingly awesome is what makes it so dangerous in the wrong hands. 

    It comes down to the product maker having to decide where to move the slider between the two extremes to achieve what they believe is a reasonable balance. No matter where they set the slider it will never be perfect. 

    An amazingly crafted kitchen knife that excels at cutting chores is equally adept as a weapon to inflict injury when in the wrong hands. 

    The shortcomings of AirTags is a human problem, not a product problem. Like humans, it can never be perfect. 
    This is a relatively new concept for humanity and it’s very good that some people want to examine all the consequences and try to determine how best to make abuses harder to accomplish.
  • Reply 51 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    So according to my tech friends who work at Apple, most stalkers use their victim’s appleid and iPhone to track them. No airtag needed. 

    I get that the author of this article is concerned about stalking and privacy, but I think there are other “free” avenues to stalk someone which he isn’t looking at. 
    That’s not the issue. The issue is that this product is another potential avenue for the same types of abuse. One that might slip in without the target knowing.

    A user of a phone can know to turn off tracking features they might’ve one time used to let their spouse/partner use to keep tabs on them. Thy can know to change their phone SIM/number. What’s problematic with these tags is that they are small enough to go unnoticed, especially if you didn’t think to go searching through your car or luggage to see if one is present.
  • Reply 52 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    AppleZulu said:
    I haven't seen any commentary about a flip-side of this issue: Air Tags as evidence against stalkers. These devices are registered to a single user, and presumably leave a data trail on Apple servers somewhere. It's easy for a stalker to drop a tag in someone's bag, but not so easy to retrieve undetected later. Someone who finds a tag that someone else has placed in their effects could take it to the police. With a properly executed warrant, this could be end up as pretty clear evidence against a stalker who has used one to track someone. A few publicized instances of people being penalized for that, and many potential stalkers may ultimately hesitate to use tags for nefarious purposes.
    Now imagine a different and very common scenario: the stalker is a current spouse/partner who has been abusing them for some time. The victim is trying to get away. By the fact of having had that relationship at all, a lot of “reasonable doubt” arguments can be thrown at law enforcement (and the victim) for why the victim had that tag with them.
  • Reply 53 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member

    ApplePoor said:
    If anyone is in an abusive situation, why would they buy a tiny tracking device that could be used against them beats me.

    At some point, there is a burden of personal responsibility that comes into operation in most folks lives.

    A cheap throw away cell phone with a cash prepaid SIM card makes more sense than any brand of smart phone.
    Seriously? Who says it was their own purchase? Use some critical thinking here. Obviously they’re not unlikely to be the one owning the thing being used to track them.

    People who throw around the phrase “personal responsibility” seem to really struggle with the concept of things happening to people outside their control.
  • Reply 54 of 61
    EsquireCatsEsquireCats Posts: 1,167member
    There is another point that seems to be getting lost in the noise of this thread. This kind of monitoring is not the domain of stalkers only, perpetrators of domestic violence also use this type of coercive control. The added benefit for them, from what I can see is that the AirTag will never go into alert mode, as the tag comes home each night and never makes it to the three days away.

    I think the release of this product was probably a little premature, and more time needed to be put into the safety measures to stop this type of usage.
    This comment is mentioned ad nauseam, and definitely not a missed consideration. Such individuals are already known to use the existing location finding features of smartphones.

    Put more simply, you can't sneak one of these devices onto someone, it's easily found.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 55 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member

    And there’s always Facebook of course. Here we are at … we’re going to xxx tomorrow. My friend xxx and. Are off to yyy tonight … 
    You are Equivocating two very different things. Social networking announcements are actions the target of abuse could control on their own. Having a tracking device stashed on their person or in their baggage isn’t.

    It sounds like your disapproval of people’s social networking usage is leading you into a blame-the-victim mindset in the context of tracking. It’s not the same thing.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 56 of 61
    barthrhbarthrh Posts: 109member
    ApplePoor said:
    If anyone is in an abusive situation, why would they buy a tiny tracking device that could be used against them beats me.

    At some point, there is a burden of personal responsibility that comes into operation in most folks lives.

    A cheap throw away cell phone with a cash prepaid SIM card makes more sense than any brand of smart phone.
    Because the STALKER buys the AirTag and then hides it in the lining of the victim's purse or backpack, in a seat pocket of their car, etc. If you live or work with the dangerous individual, there is a chance they can plant it on something you carry.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 57 of 61
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,110member
    dysamoria said:
    dewme said:
    The good + evil duality of human nature is impossible to avoid. What would make AirTag as a product so amazingly awesome is what makes it so dangerous in the wrong hands. 

    It comes down to the product maker having to decide where to move the slider between the two extremes to achieve what they believe is a reasonable balance. No matter where they set the slider it will never be perfect. 

    An amazingly crafted kitchen knife that excels at cutting chores is equally adept as a weapon to inflict injury when in the wrong hands. 

    The shortcomings of AirTags is a human problem, not a product problem. Like humans, it can never be perfect. 
    This is a relatively new concept for humanity and it’s very good that some people want to examine all the consequences and try to determine how best to make abuses harder to accomplish.
    Isn't Apple the only maker of this type of product that is actually doing that? They've come out of the gate with some preventative measures already in place. I suspect they will have a lot of back-end data and AI that they'll use to continually add to and improve those measures as they go. In fact, those measures already actually sacrifice the effectiveness of the devices for theft recovery; the user has a limited time before the thief is alerted to possible detection. 

    It's totally valid to ask the questions, but where is the accountability for the others who have brought similar tech to market without even attempting to address those kinds of issues? They've had actual years to come up with solutions to that issue, but appear to have done nothing at all.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 58 of 61
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,110member

    dysamoria said:
    AppleZulu said:
    I haven't seen any commentary about a flip-side of this issue: Air Tags as evidence against stalkers. These devices are registered to a single user, and presumably leave a data trail on Apple servers somewhere. It's easy for a stalker to drop a tag in someone's bag, but not so easy to retrieve undetected later. Someone who finds a tag that someone else has placed in their effects could take it to the police. With a properly executed warrant, this could be end up as pretty clear evidence against a stalker who has used one to track someone. A few publicized instances of people being penalized for that, and many potential stalkers may ultimately hesitate to use tags for nefarious purposes.
    Now imagine a different and very common scenario: the stalker is a current spouse/partner who has been abusing them for some time. The victim is trying to get away. By the fact of having had that relationship at all, a lot of “reasonable doubt” arguments can be thrown at law enforcement (and the victim) for why the victim had that tag with them.
    Perhaps future data analyses will show that certain patterns showing a tag moving out and back from the home, independent of the registered owner, are very unusual. As a result, additional alerts could occur while the tagged person is away from home. Then the device becomes an alerting tool for the victim, instead of just a tracker for the perp. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 59 of 61
    hammeroftruthhammeroftruth Posts: 1,051member
    dysamoria said:
    So according to my tech friends who work at Apple, most stalkers use their victim’s appleid and iPhone to track them. No airtag needed. 

    I get that the author of this article is concerned about stalking and privacy, but I think there are other “free” avenues to stalk someone which he isn’t looking at. 
    That’s not the issue. The issue is that this product is another potential avenue for the same types of abuse. One that might slip in without the target knowing.

    A user of a phone can know to turn off tracking features they might’ve one time used to let their spouse/partner use to keep tabs on them. Thy can know to change their phone SIM/number. What’s problematic with these tags is that they are small enough to go unnoticed, especially if you didn’t think to go searching through your car or luggage to see if one is present.
    In a lot of cases, changing their sim, number and Appleid has not prevented their stalker from acquiring the new information to keep tracking them. Their stalkers get fixated on them and in a lot of cases, are close enough to have credentials that give them access to the victim’s new number, email, etc. Plus they don’t need physical access to the victim’s belongings and won’t violate a restraining order. 

    I can see it now, Norton 360 advertising that their new suite can find airtags that aren’t yours. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 60 of 61
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 3,396member
    AppleZulu said:
    dysamoria said:
    dewme said:
    The good + evil duality of human nature is impossible to avoid. What would make AirTag as a product so amazingly awesome is what makes it so dangerous in the wrong hands. 

    It comes down to the product maker having to decide where to move the slider between the two extremes to achieve what they believe is a reasonable balance. No matter where they set the slider it will never be perfect. 

    An amazingly crafted kitchen knife that excels at cutting chores is equally adept as a weapon to inflict injury when in the wrong hands. 

    The shortcomings of AirTags is a human problem, not a product problem. Like humans, it can never be perfect. 
    This is a relatively new concept for humanity and it’s very good that some people want to examine all the consequences and try to determine how best to make abuses harder to accomplish.
    Isn't Apple the only maker of this type of product that is actually doing that? They've come out of the gate with some preventative measures already in place. I suspect they will have a lot of back-end data and AI that they'll use to continually add to and improve those measures as they go. In fact, those measures already actually sacrifice the effectiveness of the devices for theft recovery; the user has a limited time before the thief is alerted to possible detection. 

    It's totally valid to ask the questions, but where is the accountability for the others who have brought similar tech to market without even attempting to address those kinds of issues? They've had actual years to come up with solutions to that issue, but appear to have done nothing at all.
    I have not personally checked. It may be that Apple putting out product like this has brought the concept to attention more than the other similar products (bigger name & more popularity leads to more eyes & more critique). It’s certainly worth inquiring with both the media entities who report on this issue and the companies making the competing products.  
    gatorguy
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