AirTags tracking students on campus

Many people have started to get this notification on their phone when being tracked by an AirTag.

The most recent Apple product, AirTag, has created an extensive conversation on safety and security. While its typical use is to track missing items, it has also become an item used to track people.

The Apple AirTag was released in late April 2021 for only $29 for one, or as a four-pack for $99. The AirTag is designed to track missing personal items. By attaching it to any item, the user can see its location via iCloud and track the AirTag. 

Although it sounds like a valuable tool for everyday personal items, more and more tags have been misused. Some have been placed in people’s bags and cars, leading to safety concerns.

So how do they work? It is quite simple. Once the tags are activated and attached to someone or something your iPhone will notify you with these messages: “AirTag Found Moving With You” and “The location of this AirTag can be seen by the owner.”

The AirTag itself does not have a GPS system built into it, but it begins tracking location based on nearby Apple devices. Then, the owner of the AirTag is able to track its location.

Apple released a statement in February amid the growing concern of consumers noticing unwanted tracking.

“Apple has been working closely with various safety groups and law enforcement agencies,” the statement said. “Through our own evaluations and these discussions, we have identified even more ways we can update AirTag safety warnings and help guard against further unwanted tracking.”

Apple also mentioned that it is closely working with law enforcement on any related tracking case: “Every AirTag has a unique serial number, and paired AirTags are associated with an Apple ID. Apple can provide the paired account details in response to a subpoena or valid request from law enforcement.”

This seems to be happening more frequently and closer than we think. A few weeks ago, I was leaving California Baptist University when I received the “AirTag Found Moving With You” notification. I was confused because I did not own any AirTags. It tracked most of my day and where I went, and if I am being honest, I did not bother to look for it because I was sure it could have been a mistake. Eventually, I saw it was not, and somehow this AirTag had followed me throughout the whole day. Did I bother to look for it? No, so maybe it is still in my car somewhere. However, if you are tracked by an unwanted AirTag, you can find it and deactivate the device.

This has been the case for many people across the U.S. The stories continue to roll out as these devices are used to stalk people. While AirTags have become a popular and useful technology, it has also brought misuse. Apple has not released the amount of AirTags which have been sold and with the rising concerns, Apple has made software updates and continues working with law enforcement on any related cases.

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