The company introduced a “Anti-Theft Mode” that renders trackers undetectable to all save the original owner.
After months of stories of Bluetooth tracking devices like Apple’s AirTags being used to watch individuals for miles, Tile, one of the first firms to popularise these trackers, is adding a feature to its app that looks for adjacent undesirable devices that will render its devices “undetectable.”
Oh no, of course the corporation does not permit all of its customers to place a tracking device in their ex’s pocketbook. To dissuade any inappropriate use of these newly “invisible” tracking devices, the business guarantees to turn over all data to law enforcement and pay convicted stalkers $1 million.
Tile, which was acquired by family location-sharing startup Life360 in 2021, stated Thursday in a press release that customers can enable “Anti-Theft Mode” on any Tile tracker, as well as other products that utilise its tracking technology. This prevents the device from being detected by the app’s feature that allows users to scan for nearby Tile devices. This new function was developed in response to “consumer demand,” claiming a rise in thefts and robberies.
Yet, the corporation did not particularly note that thefts of tracking devices are on the rise. Instead, it highlighted a nearly decade-old United Nations report on drugs and crime, as well as a 2022 report on rises in property crimes from the non-profit Council for Criminal Justice. It has been less than a year since Tile added its “Scan and Secure” feature to check for unwanted trackers on the user’s person.
In an email to Gizmodo, a spokesman for Life360 stated that they did not have information on Tile robberies since “theft isn’t always reported to Tile,” but that customers have requested a “theft solution” due to fears that thefts and robberies are on the rise.
Apple has been dealing with a storm of criticism and lawsuits alleging that stalkers have used its AirTags to track victims. Apple has capabilities on its iPhones that should tell users when there’s an unknown AirTag on their person (you’ll need to download a separate app on Android phones), but Tile is transparent about the fact that it does not alert nearby handsets when a user is travelling with an unfamiliar tracker. The company said that these alerts “may inform thieves that a tracker is attached to a stolen item, allowing them to remove it and making its recovery more difficult.”
Anti-Theft Mode registration requires a biometric scan and government-issued identification. The Life360 spokesman stated that Berbix, a third-party ID verification business, will store all user information, including the ID. The company stated that it does not sell or monetize the data and eliminates all biometric information when it is no longer required for fraud prevention and verification.
Moreover, Tile and Life360 stated that they will be eager to provide law police with users’ personal information “even without a subpoena.”
Reports from 2021 indicated that Life360 was well-known for selling the location data of its users, including families and children, to data brokers. In fact, the corporation is heavily involved in selling customer data to “almost anyone willing to purchase it.” The corporation announced a year ago that it will cease selling precise user location data.
The $1 million fine it promises to levy against “any individual convicted in a court of law for using Tile devices to illegally track any individual without their knowledge or consent” probably won’t help victims or potential victims sleep any better, but what makes this even stranger is the fact that it will be levied against “any individual convicted in a court of law for using Tile devices to illegally track any individual without their knowledge or consent.”
According to Tile, proactive notifications from trackers such as AirTags have proved “insufficient” for victim protection, which is partially accurate. Nevertheless, instead of inventing new methods to prevent this extremely dangerous sort of technological surveillance, the corporation has thrown in the towel. Chris Hulls, chief executive officer of Life360, described this as a “choice” between making their devices visible or invisible. In order to “sleep a little easier at night,” users must make these devices invisible to other users.
In a blog post published on Medium on Wednesday, Hulls stated that their own tests of AirTags revealed it takes devices hours or days to detect intrusive trackers.
“The main line is that a good locating device is also a good stalking device,” he wrote, adding that it is “almost difficult” to make accurate and timely alerts of unwanted trackers.
The true solution, according to Hulls, is to “implement safeguards such as ID registration for all location-enabled devices” as opposed to making unwanted trackers easily detectable.
Therefore, according to Tile and, by extension, Apple, our only two options are to be compelled to link every location-enabled device, such as a smartphone or smartwatch, to a personal ID. Otherwise, all potential victims must ponder whether a criminal actor is planting an invasive Bluetooth tracker on their body.