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    Apple and Google Partner to Combat Stalker Tech

    Apple and Google have joined forces to develop broader anti-stalking measures that work across iOS and Android operating systems. These new features could be available by late 2023, offering users increased protection from stalkers utilizing Bluetooth trackers, such as Apple’s AirTag and similar devices.

    Bluetooth Trackers: A Double-Edged Sword

    While technology has simplified our lives, it has also introduced some significant concerns. Bluetooth trackers like Apple’s AirTag help people find their lost items, but bad actors have exploited these devices to stalk individuals, cause harm, and steal belongings. This partnership between Apple and Google aims to limit stalking through Bluetooth trackers and protect both iOS and Android users from unwanted tracking.

    Industry Collaboration for Enhanced Security

    Apple and Google have submitted a specification targeting unwanted tracking through crowdsourced finding networks as an Internet-Draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force. They plan to launch a production implementation by the end of 2023. Major Bluetooth tracker manufacturers such as Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for this specification, ensuring widespread adoption once implemented.

    Automatic Alerts for Users

    Currently, iOS users are notified when an unknown AirTag follows them, but Android users lack an official detection method for these devices. Furthermore, neither iOS nor Android can automatically detect trackers from other brands. By integrating this specification into their mobile operating systems, Apple and Google aim to address the stalking problem caused by AirTags, Tile devices, and other Bluetooth trackers.

    Input from Safety and Advocacy Groups

    Both Apple and Google plan to incorporate input from various safety and advocacy groups in the development of this new specification. Once the comment period is over, the two tech giants will work together to address feedback and finalize the specification. The production implementation of the unwanted tracking alerts is expected to be released by the end of 2023, with support in future versions of iOS and Android.

    A Critical Step Forward

    As Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity, notes, this collaboration is a crucial step in combating unwanted tracking across both iOS and Android platforms. Similarly, Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of Engineering for Android, emphasizes the need for industry-wide action to address the potential misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices.

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