Apple’s smart trackers are being weaponized against women – why are they still on sale?

(Apple/Getty Images)

It should come as no surprise that men have found a way to exploit smart technology in order to harass women. However, a year after the launch of the keyfinder, Apple has yet to address the nefarious flaw in the shiny, coin-sized AirTag. The device allows stalkers and abusers to track down their victims — and it has troubling consequences.

Designed to help locate misplaced items, the AirTag can be attached to keys, bag, purse or luggage—the tracking possibilities are (frustratingly) endless. The tracker, synced with Bluetooth, will alert any nearby Apple device of its location, displaying a map on your phone detailing exactly where it is.

We’ve all been there: You’re late, frantically searching around the house for your keys, wishing you could ring them or hear them buzz. But this moment of inconvenience is not a life or death situation. However, what could be life or death is followed by a stranger at night or kept under constant surveillance by an abusive partner. However, this loathsome business is made easier with the increase in tracking technology, and Apple – along with other tech companies that sell similar devices – do nothing about it.

Since its launch, many women have reported chasing after Apple trackers after getting their phones pinned from an unknown AirTag. A recent investigation by Motherboard revealed that there are more than a hundred US police reports related to the company’s key-finding software. A woman fears physical violence after realizing that an ex-partner with a history of abuse has been tracking her every step. Another couldn’t tell how the man she had taken a restraining order against kept knowing her whereabouts, until she found the AirTag in her car. She stated that she was afraid that the perpetrator would assault or kill her.

brooks rare a Sports Illustrated The model, who recently revealed that she was stalked by a complete stranger using an AirTag. “It was the scariest moment ever, and I just want everyone to realize that this exists,” she said in an Instagram post. TikTok user Kayla Malik also went viral last year after she documented finding one of the devices in her car.

Despite warnings from many tech experts and domestic violence charities, Apple’s response to these shocking accounts has been woefully short. Until June last year, there was a three-day delay in AirTag beeping if it was separated from its owner. This means that victims can be chased for a full 72 hours before this is detected.

In response to these concerns, Apple shortened this notification time, reducing it from three days to between eight and 24 hours. While this is an improvement, there is still plenty of time for stalkers or domestic abusers to target their victims and simply does not reflect the urgency of addressing such a serious protection issue.

Worse, if victims don’t receive a notification on their phones that an unknown AirTag is tracking their location, they’ll have to count on hearing it, a sound that many people have reported as very quiet. Android users won’t get a ping on their phones at all, which makes them more vulnerable to being stalked.

The only other measure Apple has taken to reduce the risk of AirTag stalking is to create a privacy warning message that each AirTag user receives when setting up the device. This is just a rant to his critics without actually addressing the problem: The security message won’t deter stalkers who can track people quite easily.

The tech company released another software update this week, but it has yet to reveal any details about what it involves, which means that, for now, all we’re stuck with is alerting them to stalkers within 8-24 hours and the proxy message that pops up on our phones. To warn us about harassment.

This is not just an Apple problem. Competitors, including Tile and Samsung, also sell major search tools and have yet to come up with anything substantial to solve this potentially fatal flaw. Experts have warned that until there is an industry-wide approach to dealing with stalking, people’s privacy will continue to be exploited.

In another move that proves how tough these tech companies are when it comes to women’s safety, Samsung was forced to apologize for a recent ad showing a woman going for a run at 2am on city streets alone. The absurd campaign received a backlash from women’s charities and inspired women to share their stories of being harassed while running. Why are women forced to traumatize over and over again in order to stay safe?

Tech companies are constantly shirking responsibility when it comes to women’s safety online too: If we don’t get caught in an electronic flash on Tube, angry men are spreading misogyny our way on Twitter. As we become more attached to the digital space, these issues are only going to get worse. Women are already experiencing sexual harassment in the metaverse, and this technology is still in its infancy.

To keep up with the latest reviews and comments, sign up for our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by click here

The AirTag failure is just the latest example of smart technology being used as a weapon against women. Domestic violence victims have reported increased monitoring by smart speakers, video doorbells and tracking apps during the Covid lockdowns, further isolating them and making them more vulnerable to violence and coercive control.

The last thing women need is another thing to worry about while they come home at night. Here we are, however, afraid of being followed by little trackers in our pockets. Rather than holding tech companies accountable for their failures, the onus has always fallen on women to protect themselves, as clues continue to emerge online about “what to do when an AirTag is chasing you.” Aggressors will find any way to harm their victims – clever trackers simply enable their behavior.

Ultimately, technology can’t win women: Either we’re forced to use security apps in the wake of women’s murders because the police can’t be trusted to protect us, or we’re tracked down by savvy trackers as we go about our business. day. I can’t help but wonder about the need for these master explorers given the frightening consequences they leave behind. It’s truly despicable to see abusers and stalkers infiltrating the clever tech space, and as a woman, I’m overwhelmed by the complete lack of urgency from companies like Apple that have so much to answer.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.