Apple and Google Partner to Combat Unwanted Tracking by Smart Tags

Apple and Google are collaborating to address the issue of unwanted tracking by smart tags, a rising worry among privacy activists. 

The two tech giants have announced a partnership to propose an industry standard to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices. The aim is to prevent location tracker “abuse” that puts users at risk of stalking, harassment, and theft. The partnership has garnered interest from other smart tracker makers, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee.

To address this problem, Apple and Google have submitted their specifications as Internet Drafts through the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a standards body. Other interested parties will be solicited for review and comment over the next three months. Apple and Google will then submit feedback before releasing a production implementation of the standard later this year, which will be supported by future iOS and Android versions.

The draft specification outlines several best practices for creators of Bluetooth tracking devices, including detecting and alerting individuals when trackers are travelling with them and disabling devices. The aim is to provide instructions on detecting unwanted tracking and preventing it from happening. The move has been welcomed by privacy advocates, who have expressed concerns about the safety of devices like Apple’s AirTag.

Apple has already taken measures to solve the problem, strengthening unknown AirTag alerts on iPhones and developing an app for Android that screens for unwanted trackers. The company’s sensing and connectivity vice president, Ron Huang, said in a statement that the new industry specification builds on AirTag’s protection capabilities. The collaboration with Google represents an important step in combating unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.

Google has lagged behind Apple in this area, but the company has been exploring the idea of Bluetooth smart tag detection at the OS level. The move by the two tech giants makes it very likely that this will happen in the coming months. Google is expected to detail its efforts to combat unwanted tracking at I/O next week and is also said to be working on its own Bluetooth smart tag, which could be unveiled at the event.

Meet Vishak, TechLog360's Content Editor and tech enthusiast. With a Computer Science degree and a passion for all things tech, Vishak delivers the latest in hardware, apps, and games with expertise. Trusted for his in-depth reviews and industry insights, he's your guide to the digital world. Off-duty, he's exploring photography and virtual gaming landscapes.


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