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Apple & Google Team Up to Combat Unwanted Bluetooth Tracking

Last Updated: January 11, 2024
The unlikely pair are developing a specification to help mitigate unauthorized tracking on Bluetooth location-tracking devices.

Apple and Google are teaming up to combat unwanted tracking through Bluetooth location-tracking devices.

Bluetooth trackers have been misused in various stalking, theft, and abuse incidents by criminals planting the devices on victims and following their whereabouts. Apple and Google’s work together will include developing tech implementations to mitigate unwanted tracking. They are just building safety measures; Apple and Google want to make these measures more of a standard across the industry.

The unlikely pair proposed an industry-wide initiative to create a specification to alert users when an unauthorized tracking detection happens across their iOS and Android platforms. This specification would be mainly for Bluetooth location-tracking devices, like Apple’s AirTag and Tile. The specification is currently in the draft stage and will offer best practices and instructions for manufacturers looking to build safer capabilities into their products.

“We built AirTag and the Find My network with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — and we continue to make improvements to help ensure the technology is being used as intended,” Ron Huang, Apple’s VP of sensing and connectivity, said in the official news release. “This new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android.”

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Per a press release, the specification was submitted as an Internet-Draft via the Internet Engineering Task Force. Interested parties, namely device manufacturers, can review and comment on the draft for the next three months. The two tech giants also worked with safety and advocacy groups to incorporate some recommendations focused on mitigating abuse.

After the comment period, Apple and Google will take all the feedback and then release a production implementation by the end of the year. This specification will automatically be supported across iOS and Android devices, and companies like Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have already backed the draft and implementation plan.

“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous user benefits, but they also bring the potential of unwanted tracking, which requires industrywide action to solve,” Dave Burke, Google’s VP of engineering for Android, said in a statement. “Android has an unwavering commitment to protecting users and will continue to develop strong safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices.”

Google will lay out more of its plans with Apple at its annual developer conference next week, and the tech giant may even unveil its own Bluetooth tracker.

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About The Author
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham
Michelai Graham is Boardroom's resident tech and crypto reporter. Before joining 35V, she was a freelance reporter with bylines in AfroTech, HubSpot, The Plug, and Lifewire, to name a few. At Boardroom, Michelai covers Web3, NFTs, crypto, tech, and gaming. Off the clock, you can find her producing her crime podcast, The Point of No Return.