Apple’s AirTag item tracker has been on sale for less than a week but it’s already having a few problems, not least the fact that it could be used to stalk someone. That’s an issue Apple was aware of before launch, saying that there are safeguards in place. But some tests have shown they might not be enough.

AirTag trackers have a few features that should help avoid someone placing their own tracker on you so they can see where you go.

Those include:

  • An AirTag that isn’t owned by you, but moving with you, will trigger an alert on your iPhone.
  • AirTag will also alert you if you return home with an unknown AirTag. The same applies to places you regularly visit, like the gym or an office.

However, as The Washington Post found out, these methods of protection might not be enough.

To put Apple’s personal security protections to the test, my colleague Jonathan Baran paired an AirTag with his iPhone, slipped his tag in my backpack (with my permission), and then tracked me for a week from across San Francisco Bay

And that went pretty much as you might expect it to.

When I was riding a bike around San Francisco, the AirTag updated my location once every few minutes with a range of about half a block. When I was more stationary at home, my colleague’s app reported my exact address.

The warning popup Apple talks about did kick in, but only at the reporter’s home. And that could be really troublesome for those who live with their abusers.

An AirTag starts a three-day countdown clock on its alarm as soon as it’s out of the range of the iPhone it’s paired with. Since many victims live with their abusers, the alert countdown could be reset each night when the owner of the AirTag comes back into its range

It’s likely that Apple’s Find My system will learn the locations we visit and, hopefully at least, begin to warn us about unknown AirTag more frequently. If not, there’s definitely a potential for an issue here.

That said, that’s the case with all trackers, isn’t it?

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