AirTags are meant to serve as a small and handy device so owners can find and track objects with any Apple device – stopping you from ever losing your keys again.
However, some people are repurposing the coin-sized devices to work as trackers, which can track people’s whereabouts without their consent, or against their will.
There have been numerous reports across the US and the UK where they have been alerted to an unregistered AirTag devices tracking their location.
Priced at just £29 in the UK, there are fears there may be an increase in copycat offences here.
“If you create an item which is useful for tracking stolen items, then you have also created a perfect tool for stalking," Eva Galperin, Director of Cyber-Security at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, explained to the BBC.
“I have personally talked to several people who have found AirTags in their possession.”
Apple has tried to counter AirTags being used for potentially criminal or dangerous activities, by having a device play a loud ringing noise.
AirTags can also alert drivers of vehicles, or those nearby with an iPhone running on iOS 14.5 or higher, that an AirTag is nearby, or moving with them.
However, it can take the devices up to 24 to sound an alert, and AirTags can be disabled, with experts saying these safeguarding alerts doing go far enough.
“AirTags emit a 60 decibel beep. and it's really easy to muffle,” Galperin said. “I could muffle it just by closing it in my fist. I could muffle it by putting it between two couch cushions. It's impossible to hear by putting it, say, under your car bumper.”
There are also concerns for Android users, who may not be offered the same protection as people with Apple devices.
“I want them to work with Google in order to give Androids the same level of detection automatically in the background, as they already have for iPhones,” Galpern said.
Apple, however, have argued they are constantly looking at safety measures.
“We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag's privacy and security,” the said in a statement to the BBC. “If users ever feel their safety is at risk, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement, who can work with Apple to provide any available information about the unknown AirTag.”
Charity Woman’s Aid added that tech abuse is becoming increasingly commonplace in modern day society.
“Domestic abuse is not always physical. Stalking and tech abuse are very real and dangerous forms of abuse – with survivors who are being stalked by their ex-partner often at risk of greatest harm,” Isabelle Younane, head of policy, campaigns and public affairs at Women’s Aid, told Tyla.
“During the covid-19 pandemic, some perpetrators utilised lockdown measures as an opportunity to monitor survivors more closely and escalate abuse– including putting tracking devices on cars. Women’s fears about being tracked by new technology must be heard and taken seriously.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse and need help, visit womensaid.org.uk/information-support/