Tile adds AirTag-like feature to battle stalkers

Smart tag devices come with a noble idea – to help you stop losing things. Ever since the AirTag got released by Apple, though, the dark potential of those devices fully unfolded. It turned out to be a stalker’s dream, as AirTag trackers didn’t alert Android users of their presence (Apple baked a security feature to track and locate foreign AirTags but it only worked with iPhones).Last December, Apple launched Tracker Detect – an AirTags app for Android users to help them scan for malicious smart tags around them. That move kinda solved the potential privacy nightmare brewing in Apple’s kitchen, and now another smart tag manufacturer has followed in Apple’s footsteps.

Tile (actually the first company to launch mass-produced, widely-available smart trackers) is adding a new Scan and Secure feature to battle potential stalkers. The feature will scan and find tracking devices secretly planted to track one’s movement.

Scan and Secure is already rolling out for both Android and iOS devices, and should be available to everyone within the next couple of days. The way this new feature works is similar to Apple’s tool, with only one key difference – users would need to perform the scans manually. In AirTags’ case, users are automatically alerted if a foreign tracker has been moving with them for a certain amount of time.

When activated Scan and Secure will perform a total of six scans to spot Tile trackers and other Tile-enabled devices in the vicinity. After about 10 minutes, the results will be presented to the users (if the feature fails to perform at least three scans in this 10-minute window, the procedure would have to be repeated).

If Scan and Secure finds a foreign tracker device somewhere around you, it will show a picture of the tracker along with the number of times it was detected during the scan. There’s an ID that’s tied to the tracker but that information is available only to Tile (for safety reasons), and in case there’s potential criminal activity, the aforementioned ID can lead law enforcement officials to the owner of the tracker (after the necessary court orders are issued, of course).

Finally, Tile says users shouldn’t perform these scans in crowded places, as the returning results may include legitimate trackers used by people around to secure their own belongings. There’s also a quick way to disable a planted tracker (if you happen to find one on you) – either by removing the battery, or by wrapping it in several layers of tin foil to block the signal coming from it.

First step in a long process

Tile says that the Scan and Secure feature is the “first step towards giving people more control over their safety.” The company will work with experts and advocacy organizations on an ongoing basis to up its privacy game and make sure Tile users are protected.

There’s an overview of the feature on Tile’s official site, alongside a FAQ to help users get familiar with the new functionality. Tile also encourages people to seek help if they feel concerned for their safety. One way to do this is to contact law enforcement agencies or advocacy organizations such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
What is your experience using smart trackers? Ever found a foreign device around you? (Hopefully not!) There are horror stories all around the internet of people being followed home by stalkers using smart trackers. And what’s even more alarming – people are selling ‘silenced’ AirTags, rendering all these privacy features useless.

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