Unexpected allies Apple and Google have joined forces to fight the Bluetooth tracker, proposing a new industry standard that would allow people to be alerted when an unknown tracker is tracking them.
The two tech giants announced their collaboration on Tuesday, with the companies submitting a new draft industry specification(opens in a new tab) to the standards development organization Internet Engineering Task Force(opens in a new tab). If implemented, the new specification would allow Bluetooth location tracking devices to work with unauthorized tracking detection tools on iOS and Android.
So if an attacker slipped an AirTag into an Android user’s bag, their target would still be alerted by unauthorized tracking alerts from their phone. Currently, Android users worried about being secretly tracked via AirTag should download a dedicated Apple app that can detect these devices.
This detection would also work with other Bluetooth trackers and other operating systems. Although Google doesn’t currently have a smart tracker, leaks in January indicated that one could be in development.
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Bluetooth tracker makers such as Samsung, Tile and Pebblebee have expressed support for Apple and Google’s proposal, according to the statement released by the two companies. The new standards were developed with input from those companies, as well as safety and advocacy groups such as the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Center for Democracy and Technology.
“Bluetooth trackers have created tremendous benefits for users, but also bring the potential for unwanted tracking, which requires industry-wide action to address,” said Dave Burke, vice president Google Engineering for Android, in the release.(opens in a new tab)
“This new industry specification builds on AirTag protections and, through collaboration with Google, represents a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking on iOS and Android,” said Ron Huang, vice president detection and connectivity from Apple.(opens in a new tab).
The Internet Engineering Task Force will be accepting comments on the submission from Apple and Google for three months, with the proposal to be implemented by the end of the year.