When Sports Illustrated model, Brooks Nader, received a notification from her Find My iPhone app signaling, “Unknown Accessory Detected: this item has been moving with you for a while. The owner can see your location,” she became worried.
She was walking home alone when she received the notification. Upon clicking it, she could see a map that showed every location she had been that evening, starting hours earlier when she waited for friends at a trendy TriBeCa restaurant. After her friends arrived, they left to join more friends at another location. Nader was wearing an oversized winter coat. It had only been out of her sight when she went to the restroom.
“It started at the restaurant around 6:30 p.m., which tells me it was placed in my coat,” Nadar told Fox News. After she arrived home, Nader and her husband searched her coat: they found a small white disc. Unable to immediately identify the device, Nadar posted it to an Instagram Story where several of her followers–over 800,000–informed her that it was an Apple AirTag. They also shared stories of being stalked by AirTags.
Apple describes an AirTag as “a super-easy way to keep track of your stuff.”
What was intended to keep track of keys, phones, purses, and wallets is now being used to stalk.
iPhone users can determine where the AirTag is located with Apple’s Find My app. If the AirTag is away from its owner for an extended amount of time, the AirTag will issue an alert to let the person closest to it know that it is near. A similar feature, Tracker Detect, was released by Apple for Android users last month. The app looks for device trackers separated from their owners and compatible with Apple’s Find My Network. If tracking is presumed, the app scans for devices; however, Android users would have to download the app and run a scan to check for devices.
In light of Nader’s story, Apple Spokesman Alex Kirschner said in a statement that Apple takes customer safety “very seriously” and that the company is “committed to AirTag’s privacy and security.” Mr. Kirschner warned, “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.”
While security may be of significant value to Apple, individuals who have been tracked do not feel that authorities always take the possibility of them being stalked seriously. In The New York Times, Michaela Clough of Corning (California) detailed receiving an “Unknown Accessory” notification upon leaving the gym. She called the police to report the possible stalking incident.
Clough was told, however, that she could only file a report if someone appeared at her home; and, the notification alone was not enough to prove that she was being stalked. Apple was able to disconnect the device (which was never located). Nadar says receiving the notification was the “scariest moment ever.”
She hopes that dangerous incidents about Apple AirTags reach as many girls and women as possible.