Apple Airtags Becoming Illegal To Own?

By Kristi Eckert | 1 month ago

airtags

Apple’s AirTags are nifty little devices that can turn out to be real lifesavers in certain circumstances. The tiny quarter-sized pucks were made to help individuals keep track of belongings that frequently tend to wind up lost. AirTags can be put on keys, luggage, bikes, and even pets. They work by pinging nearby iPhones so that the AirTags owner can hone in on the lost item’s centralized location. Considering that the iPhone’s market share in the United States is hovering at well over 50%, the idea to leverage that network with AirTags to help people is ingenious when you think about it. That is until that ingenuity gets flipped for sinister purposes. Some ill-intentioned individuals have been using AirTags to stalk others. In response, some states are looking to criminalize the act of using an AirTag to track or follow another individual. 

Following numerous reports of people having found AirTags planted on their person as a result of another’s individual’s attempt to track them, both Pennsylvania and Ohio are now seeking to criminalize that act. This is a big deal because current stalking laws are only semi-effective at best. This is largely due to the fact that to prosecute someone on stalking charges law enforcement has to clearly demonstrate a pattern of behavior that explicitly defines that person’s intent to stalk another. Moving to criminalize the act of using an AirTag to track someone would override the need to prove a pattern of behavior. This could help to keep many victims safer, at least if they have been found to have been tracked with an AirTag.

Moreover, Apple has been decidedly clear about its willingness to cooperate with law enforcement in cases of stalking where AirTags have been found to have been involved. Additionally, Apple has already implemented a lot of steps to help increase the safety and security of AirTags. This includes notifying all surrounding iPhones of an AirTags presence including the person who had the AirTag planted on them. They are currently working on a way for Android users to be notified on their phones as well. That alone makes it pretty difficult for a person to covertly stalk an individual.  

Furthermore, should a person with the intent to stalk another individual decide to use an AirTag to facilitate their ploy they wouldn’t exactly be the sharpest nail in the toolkit. This is because to work AirTags need to be registered and connected to a person’s Apple ID. When registered that tag’s serial number becomes associated with that person’s Apple ID. This makes identifying the perpetrator an easy pursuit for law enforcement personnel. 

Lastly, while it’s great that some states are moving to criminalize the act of using an AirTag to track someone, it’s important to realize that AirTags are not the only devices being used in this malicious way. Long before Apple ever released its AirTags to the masses devices with similar functionality had also been on the market. Tile is a notable example. There have been instances where these devices had been used for exploitative purposes, too. Thus, to create a comprehensive law, legislation should widen its scope to include any device being used to track or stalk another person.