Google and Apple have announced that they are working together to fight unwanted tracking. The two companies have submitted a draft specification to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) that would require all Bluetooth location-tracking devices to alert users of any unauthorized tracking.
The specification, which is still under development, would work by requiring tracking devices to periodically generate a random Bluetooth signal. This signal would be unique to each device and would be used to identify the device to the user’s device. If a user’s device detects an unknown tracking signal, it would alert the user and give them the option to block the device.
The new specification is a welcome development for privacy advocates, who have long warned about the potential for Bluetooth tracking to be used for stalking, harassment, and other crimes. In recent years, there have been a number of high-profile cases in which Bluetooth trackers have been used to track people without their knowledge.
In one case, a woman in the United Kingdom was stalked for months by her ex-boyfriend, who used a Bluetooth tracker to track her movements. In another case, a man in the United States was arrested for stalking his ex-girlfriend after he used a Bluetooth tracker to track her to her new home.
The new specification from Google and Apple is not a silver bullet, but it is a step in the right direction. By requiring tracking devices to be more transparent, the specification will make it more difficult for criminals and stalkers to track people without their knowledge.
In addition to the new specification, Google and Apple have also taken other steps to protect user privacy. In 2021, Apple launched an Android detector app that helps users scan for nearby AirTags or other similar item trackers that might be traveling with them without their knowledge. Google has also taken steps to improve the privacy of its location services, including making it easier for users to turn off location tracking and providing more transparency about how Google uses location data.
The efforts of Google and Apple to protect user privacy are welcome news for consumers. As more and more devices become connected to the internet, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to take steps to protect the privacy of their users. The new specification from Google and Apple is a step in the right direction, and it is hoped that other companies will follow their lead.