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Google and Apple collaborate to combat unwanted location tracking

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Tech giants Google and Apple have joined forces to tackle the issue of unwanted location tracking through Bluetooth devices. The culmination of this partnership is the introduction of an industry specification called ‘Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers,’ which aims to empower users across both Android and iOS platforms by alerting them if a Bluetooth tracking device is being used to track them without their knowledge.

Google will implement this feature on Android devices running version 6.0 and above, while Apple is integrating it into iOS version 17.5.

The newly introduced capability functions by notifying Android users with an alert stating ‘Tracker travelling with you’ when an unfamiliar Bluetooth tracking device is detected nearby over time, regardless of its paired platform. On iOS, users will see an ‘Item found moving with you’ alert notification.

This alert is a precautionary measure indicating the possible presence of another individual’s Bluetooth tracking device, such as an AirTag or Find My Device network-compatible tracker tag.

Photo: Vilgun / Shutterstock.com
Several Bluetooth tag manufacturers, such as Eufy, have committed to using the new standard in their future products. | Photo: Vilgun / Shutterstock.com

“If a user gets such an alert on their Android device, it means that someone else’s AirTag, Find My Device network-compatible tracker tag or other industry specification-compatible Bluetooth tracker is moving with them,” said Google.

Upon receiving such an alert, Android users have access to various options. They can view the identifier of the detected tracker, activate an audible alert on the tracker to aid in locating it, and access instructions on how to deactivate it.

Notably, leading manufacturers of Bluetooth tags like Chipolo, Eufy, Jio, Motorola, and Pebblebee have committed to ensuring compatibility with this industry standard in their forthcoming products.

In 2022, two women in California filed a lawsuit against Apple AirTags, alleging that the device has become dangerous and affects individual privacy. In 2023, more than three dozen individuals joined the lawsuit.

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Kumar Hemant

Kumar Hemant

Deputy Editor at Candid.Technology. Hemant writes at the intersection of tech and culture and has a keen interest in science, social issues and international relations. You can contact him here: kumarhemant@pm.me

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