Friday, May 31, 2024

Unwanted Tracking Alerts in iOS and Android

Apple (Hacker News, Slashdot):

Apple and Google have worked together to create an industry specification — Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers — for Bluetooth tracking devices that makes it possible to alert users across both iOS and Android if such a device is unknowingly being used to track them. This will help mitigate the misuse of devices designed to help keep track of belongings. Today Apple is implementing this capability in iOS 17.5, and Google is now launching this capability on Android 6.0+ devices.

Android 6 is the equivalent of iOS 9.

With this new capability, users will now get an “[Item] Found Moving With You” alert on their device if an unknown Bluetooth tracking device is seen moving with them over time, regardless of the platform the device is paired with.

This is not a unified platform for tracking, i.e. AirTag, Android, and Tile still use separate networks.

Bruce Schneier:

This seems like a good idea, but I worry about false alarms. If I am walking with a friend, will it alert if they have a Bluetooth tracking device in their pocket?

As with anti-theft vs. anti-stalking, it seems like there are fundamental tensions here that cannot be resolved.


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I'm going to just note the irony here that Google is working on notifying users of unwanted tracking.

Does Apple still update that one random older iOS version? They could incorporate it into that, if they really cared about this issue. That's about the best I would expect out of them though.

Also, Android (out of some necessity) has a more flexible system when it comes to updates. Because the handset makers suck at pushing out actual OS updates, Google has changed what constitutes the core OS, so they can push out a lot of stuff independently of the manufacturers.

I can confirm. Just got notified that my Android 13 phone is a part of this find a thing network.

I'm sorry, Google is rolling this back to Android 6? That's kind of amazing actually. Kudos to them.

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