DeKalb County

‘AirTag’ tracking raising alarms with privacy groups and people discovering they are being tracked

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — The idea of a tracker to find lost wallets or keys or other common household items was a good one. But as time goes on, police and privacy groups are discovering more and more nefarious uses for Apple’s “AirTags” as examples of people unknowingly being tracked continue to roll in.

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Channel 2′s Michael Seiden spoke to Albert Fox Cahn, who is the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P). He said the project has been receiving an ever-growing list of calls over the past eight months from people who’ve become victims of crime after someone used the devices to track them.

“We knew these were a ticking time bomb. We warned Apple that they were going to be a disaster,” Cahn said. “Every day we are hearing from people who are concerned either because they’ve actually detected one of these devices or because they don’t know if they’re being tracked.”

Seiden discovered that a Brookhaven woman called the police after getting an alert on her phone that she was being tracked by an AirTag. Seiden found the woman’s social media post about the incident. The woman was not named for safety reasons.

The post said that shortly after the woman discovered the AirTag, a car was outside her home an hour later with no plates, canvassing the house and taking photos.


Cahn said that while you may get alerted about being tagged if you have an iPhone, it’s a little more complicated to find out if you don’t.

“Well you listen to one of these devices if it starts beeping, check your phone and see if you’re getting warned that there’s a tracker nearby,” Fox Cahn said. “Even worse is if you have an Android device, you have to install an Apple app just to detect if one of these is nearby.”

S.T.O.P and other privacy groups are calling on Apple to stop making the $29 tracking devices.

“If these companies continue to act recklessly and sell this sort of tracking device, we need to actually outlaw it,” Cahn said.

Seiden reached out to Apple about the concerns voiced in this story but did not hear back. Earlier in the week, the California-based company released an updated list of personal safety guidelines for Apple AirTag users. The company said it is willing to help anyone who has been targeted and tracked or is concerned about it.

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The tags have helped some consumers find lost items. A woman and her family who were moving from Colorado to New York was able to track the mover carrying their belongings across the country.

Valerie McNulty said she accidentally left a tag on her son’s bracelet, which was on the moving truck. When their belongings did not show up when they were supposed to, she was able to track the truck.

The driver told her he was 19 hours away but she discovered he was actually only four hours away. She called the driver to find out what was going on.

“We were hung up on,” McNulty said. “But he quickly called like 10 minutes later saying that he was surprised that we could track him. He said he was gonna go see his lady and mind you that was four hours in a different direction.”

The McNultys’ belongings did finally make it to New York and she said the moving company put the driver on probation for the diversion.

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