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Apple and Google’s new standard alerts users of suspicious Bluetooth trackers

What just happened? The problem of tracking devices like AirTags being misused to stalk people has been an issue since they first launched. Now, Apple and Google have announced that their previously confirmed industry specification for Bluetooth tracking devices is being rolled out to iOS and Android platforms, which should go some way in preventing these incidents.

The Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers (DULT) standard is being introduced in iOS 17.5 by Apple, while Google is bringing it to Android 6.0 and higher devices.

The companies write that thanks to the new standard, users will see a notification alert on their device that reads “[Item] Found Moving With You” if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is detected moving with them over time, regardless of the platform the device is paired with.

Users will be able to view the tracker’s identifier, have it play a sound so it can be located, and there will even be instructions on how to disable it.

iPhones have been able to detect nearby AirTags from the beginning. Apple introduced a Tracker Detect App allowing Android users to search for AirTags in 2021, with Google implementing unwanted tracking alerts into the Android OS in July last year.

Google said it would delay support for offline Android devices and third-party trackers in its upgraded Find My Devices network until Apple had implemented DULT in its ecosystem. Now that Cupertino has introduced it to iOS, many of the new Bluetooth devices are expected to arrive soon.

Bluetooth tag manufacturers, including Chipolo, eufy, Jio, Motorola, and Pebblebee have committed that future tags will be compatible with the new standard, while Samsung and Tile also said they will support it.

Criminals have long used AirTags and similar trackers for nefarious purposes. In late 2021, we heard of cases in which AirTags were discreetly placed on parked cars so they could be tracked to a place where stealing them would be easier, such as the victim’s residence.

But the biggest problem has always been the trackers’ potential for stalking. During an eight-month period in 2021 and 2022, 150 police department cases that mentioned AirTags showed that a third were related to stalking – women were the target in all but one of these incidents.

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