Stalking as an abusive behavior is not new, but technology-facilitated abuse has made stalking easier for perpetrators to target others. New technologies, like Apple AirTag and Tile, are inexpensive, simple to set up, and small enough to easily hide.
An internet search of bluetooth tracking devices gets almost 55 MILLION results with top results from the New York Times and PC Magazine with titles touting the best trackers of the year and providing links to purchase them.
Designed to easily find misplaced items like keys, wallets, and bags, the technology does not require permission to place them on another person. Once connected to your device, it can be placed anywhere-in plain sight or hidden, making it ideal for stealthy tracking an individual’s location.
Apple has issued information for what to do if you are alerted that an AirTag is traveling with you but the alert is only useful for those using Apple products. Those using Android technology must download an Apple app to receive alerts. Additionally, the alert only activates when the AirTag “is seen moving with you over time” but Apple does not specify the length of that time frame.
Tiles similarly require an app to be notified about tracking and is currently (January 2022) finalizing the Scan and Secure feature on that app that will allow users to scan for unassigned trackers in their area.
Here are some steps you can take to maintain your safety:
- Download tracking detection apps to your phone and run scans.
- Check your mobile device, apps, and accounts to see if location sharing is turned on. Update settings as needed.
- Contact your mobile phone provider to ask if any location-sharing services are in use. Note that location tracking through your car might be through roadside assistance or safe driver service.
- Contact the police if you are concerned about a hidden tracking device in your car or other belongings
- Document evidence before removing a device or changing an abusive person’s access to your location information.
If you or someone you know believes that they are being stalked, call your local police.
90% of stalking incidents are committed by someone the victim knows, often by a current or former intimate partner. The Retreat can help with legal support and safety plans. Call the 24-Hour Hotline (631)329-2200 or chat online.
National Network to End Domestic Violence Tech Safety
Technology Safety Plan: https://www.techsafety.org/resources-survivors/technology-safety-plan
Documenting Evidence: https://www.techsafety.org/documentationtips
Centers for Disease Control: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/datasources/nisvs/index.html