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Apple and Google have jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking. The first-of-its-kind specification will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.

Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee have expressed support for the draft specification, which offers best practices and instructions for manufacturers, should they choose to build these capabilities into their products.

“The new industry specification builds upon the AirTag protections, and through collaboration with Google results in a critical step forward to help combat unwanted tracking across iOS and Android,” said Ron Huang, Apple’s vice president of Sensing and Connectivity.

“Android has an unwavering commitment to protecting users, and will continue to develop strong safeguards and collaborate with the industry to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices,” said Dave Burke, Google’s vice president of Engineering for Android.

In addition to incorporating feedback from device manufacturers, input from various safety and advocacy groups has been integrated into the development of the specification. This inclusion of diverse perspectives ensures that the final product is both effective and equitable. The National Network to End Domestic Violence has been a particularly vocal advocate for universal standards to protect survivors of abuse and stalking from the misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices. This collaboration and the resulting standards are a significant step forward. The NNEDV is encouraged by this progress, as the new standards will minimize opportunities for the abuse of this technology and decrease the burden on survivors in detecting unwanted trackers.

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The Center for Democracy & Technology is another group that has welcomed the release of the draft specification. The CDT has been focused on ways to make these devices more detectable and reduce the likelihood that they will be used to track people. A key element in reducing misuse is a universal, OS-level solution that is able to detect trackers made by different companies on the variety of smartphones that people use every day. The partnership between Apple and Google is an important step towards this goal, and the CDT looks forward to the specification moving through the standardization process and to further engagement on ways to reduce the risk of Bluetooth location trackers being misused.

The specification has been submitted as an Internet-Draft via the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), a leading standards development organization. Interested parties are invited and encouraged to review and comment over the next three months. Following the comment period, Apple and Google will partner to address feedback and release a production implementation of the specification for unwanted tracking alerts by the end of 2023 that will then be supported in future versions of iOS and Android.

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Nigel Jr.
As a tech enthusiast and expert, Nigel Jr. is dedicated to providing in-depth and insightful content on all things technology. With a background in online journalism, product reviewing, and tech creation, Nigel has become a trusted source for all things tech.

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