Apple and Google join forces to prevent the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices such as AirTag.

Apple and Google are collaborating to develop an industry standard aimed at protecting individuals using Bluetooth devices from being tracked by others. The draft specification has been submitted to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and is expected to be open for public comments within the next three months. This specification will enable Bluetooth devices to support detection of unauthorized tracking and issue alerts on iOS and Android phones, thereby enhancing user security.

AirTag is a Bluetooth tracking device launched by Apple in April 2021, designed to help users locate keys, luggage, or other belongings. However, there has been an increasing prevalence of AirTag being misused for tracking others or stealing vehicles. In response to this issue, Apple has made several updates to AirTag, including sending prominent alerts and supporting Android devices, in an effort to deter such behavior. Nevertheless, these measures have not addressed the fundamental problem. As a result, Apple and Google have decided to collaborate on a technical level to develop an industry standard that will more effectively ensure user safety and security.

The draft specification encompasses input from various device manufacturers and incorporates security-related feedback, including input from organizations such as the US End Abuse Network. Additionally, other Bluetooth tracking device suppliers have expressed support for this specification and provided best practices and guidelines for implementation during production.

Indeed, the collaboration between Apple and Google holds the promise of enhancing the safety of Bluetooth device users and preventing unauthorized tracking through these devices. This industry standard is expected to have a significant impact across the industry and contribute to the establishment of safer smart cities and IoT ecosystems. By setting a precedent for improved security practices, this collaboration has the potential to elevate the overall security standards in the realm of Bluetooth tracking devices.