Bluetooth tracking company Tile is launching a new security measure that it promises will make its devices effectively invisible to stalkers, thieves and other bad actors.
Called anti-theft mode (opens in a new tab), it works by making the company’s trackers “undetectable by Scan and Secure”, a feature in Tile’s own app that allows iOS and Android users to “detect nearby Tiles”. With this new mode, the only person who knows where their device is at all times is the Tile owner.
Scan and Secure was originally supposed to help people find lost or misplaced items. But then people started abuse other bluetooth trackers, like Apple AirTags, to track people. Tile therefore created the feature in response to overuse as well as a recent increase in theft rates. The idea behind the latter is that you’ll be able to “recover stolen valuables more easily by making it harder for thieves to know an item is being tracked,” according to the announcement.
The Anti-Theft Mode rollout begins today and will be available to all users in the coming weeks. However, to use the feature, you will need to go through a fairly rigorous verification process.
Before enabling Anti-Theft Mode, Tile will require users to register a government-issued ID to their account and submit a biometric scan to confirm their identity. Users will also have to agree to new terms of service allowing the company to release their information to authorities if they are caught using the trackers for harassment. This is done at Tile’s discretion, as it will facilitate any ongoing investigation, all without a subpoena. On top of that, the company says it will fine anyone found guilty of using its trackers to stalk people for $1 million.
Tile takes a pretty aggressive approach to making sure no one misuses their trackers. The company says it takes “a highly collaborative stance with law enforcement” and adopts these proactive measures as a way to deter bad actors. He even criticizes Apple’s recent anti-harassment update for its AirTags calling it “insufficient for victim protection”. For those unaware, iPhones will send a notification telling users if an unknown AirTag has been detected on their person. The AirTag will also start emitting a loud noise so you can find it.
We have many questions regarding Anti-Theft Mode.
As TechCrunch highlights (opens in a new tab), Tile’s “highly collaborative” stance with authorities is quite questionable. It’s unclear whether the company will fully follow due process. It is, after all, ready to turn over user information to the police without a subpoena or even a court order. Moreover, how can he “fine” a convicted individual $1 million, and why this amount? We assume this is some sort of lawsuit and not a literal fine from the government.
It’s understandable that Tile wants to protect its user base, but suing people for $1 million for violating the terms of service is a bit extreme. We’ve reached out to a company representative for clarification on both of these issues and more. This story will be updated later if we have any news.
If you’re in the market for cybersecurity services with a less aggressive approach, be sure to check out TechRadar list of best privacy tools for 2023.
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