The attorneys general for two US states are warning that some people are misusing Apple AirTag trackers as a stalking tool.
Since AirTags were released last year, reports have surfaced that the tracking accessories have been slipped into pockets and purses of unwitting people to track their location without their consent. Using Apple’s tracker this way will be treated as a felony, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a consumer alert Wednesday.
Both New York’s James and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro have offered tips to identify whether an AirTag has been placed on your person, as reported earlier by Tom’s Guide. AirTags are designed to beep when separated from devices they’re paired to, and iPhones and iPads should warn users when they detect that an unpaired AirTag is nearby.
State privacy laws and protections are still catching up to AirTags and other forms of electronic tracking. While New York and Pennsylvania officials have publicly denounced misusing the trackers to monitor people without their consent, other states have not done so yet. Despite an incident of an AirTag allegedly being used to track someone last fall in Akron, Ohio, the city’s police department is reportedly undecided on whether that would be considered stalking, according to a WKYC investigation.
AirTag owners tap into Apple’s Find My network of existing iPhones and devices in the wild to navigate toward the tracker accessory they’ve set up. Apple has acknowledged that its trackers could be misused and has tweaked the devices and Find My network to deter abuse.
To make it harder to use AirTags for nefarious purposes, Apple plans to update its accessories to warn users during setup that misusing them could be a criminal offense and to improve the sound alerts. Previously, the company shortened the time it informed nonowners of nearby AirTags and released an Android app to detect the trackers.