Apple took a big public relations hit when news broke that its item tracker, the AirTag, was being used for harassment and car theft, leading the company to revamp its software with a closer eye on user safety. AirTag competitor Tile is now showing its own plan to make its device more secure, with the launch of a new feature called “anti-theft mode”, which prevents the tracker from being detected by anyone but its owner. But it goes one step further and will now require users to register using multi-factor authentication, including biometrics, and a government ID to use this new protection. Users will also have to agree to new terms of service that allow Tile to provide their personal information to law enforcement at its discretion when a criminal investigation is underway, without having to wait for a subpoena. And he threatens to sue anyone who uses Tile to commit crimes that violate his terms of service.
The goal of this new program is to deter criminals who would otherwise turn to non-AirTag devices as a result of Apple’s crackdown, including for harassment, theft or any other criminal act. However, it’s unclear whether Tile’s stance of being “highly collaborative” with law enforcement, as its announcement states, is one that fully protects people’s rights to due process – a court order, subpoena, search warrant, or some kind of legal demand should be issued before a company would simply hand over the user’s personal and private data.
“Location sharing and finding has become part of our everyday fabric, and it’s not going anywhere. We build products for the vast majority of people who use them as intended, and for those who don’t, we are committed to fully cooperating with law enforcement,” said Chris Hulls, co-founder and CEO of Life360. , which the company acquired Tile for $205 million. in 2021, in a press release. “To effectively combat harassment with technology, we need to implement safeguards such as identity registration of all tracking devices that are small enough to be planted on a person so that law enforcement have information to get justice for the victims. In the meantime, we will do what we can at the product level to protect people from outlying cases of bad actors while increasing the likelihood of recovering stolen items with Tile to help people live a more relaxed life,” he said.
But deterrence can appear as a threat to all Tile users, not just criminals. says the company, “users should acknowledge that personal information can and will be shared with law enforcement at our discretion, even without a subpoena, to assist in the investigation and prosecution of alleged harassment.
Meanwhile, the new Anti-Theft Mode tackles theft by making Tile’s tracker invisible to anyone trying to use the Scan and Secure feature to search for trackers on stolen goods. This allows the victim to continue to track their object, but makes it more difficult for the thief to locate a tracker or hidden tag when committing a crime.
Tile will now require anyone who wants to enable anti-theft mode to verify themselves with multi-factor authentication, including biometrics, and their government-issued ID. It also says its technology can detect fake IDs. Once complete, Anti-Theft Mode can be enabled on users’ devices. The company says requiring users to register their accounts with an ID removes the anonymity associated with trackers, which deters stalkers and abusers from using these devices in this way.
Additionally, the new terms of service allow Tile to sue anyone convicted in court of harassing using its trackers. The identity verification process makes prosecution easier, he says, and it also acts as a deterrent. He says he would sue for a $1 million fine (of course, that’s up to the courts to decide). The company explains that legal action is expensive, but there are so few cases of harassment with Tile devices that it decided it would be willing to take it on. The threat of a fine would also have a deterrent effect, Tile believes.
Announcing the news, Tile calls Apple’s technology “insufficient protection” for victims and says proactive alerts sent by Apple make AirTag trackers easier to find by anyone, including thieves, in the world. purpose of disparaging Apple’s product. But in trying to balance consumer demand with security protections, it is positioning itself as a pro-law enforcement company as both a marketing ploy and a deterrent, at a time when people’s trust in the law enforcement is at an all time low. It is not clear that consumers will react well to this, even if they are not criminals.
Combined, the changes appear as an overcorrection from Tile. Until recently, Tile may have looked like a viable alternative for criminals given that it had no anti-harassment security technology at all until last March, and even then its tools weren’t as complete as those provided by Apple. Instead, Tile’s Scan and Secure technology designed to detect unknown trackers traveling with a person lacked accuracy, its scans took longer and had to be triggered manually. It did not send proactive alerts about trackers traveling with you.
But instead of implementing similar technology upgrades to compete with Apple, Tile demands more personal data from users and issues threats.
Leave a Reply