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Apple AirTag Raises Stalking Concerns

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Apple AirTag is about the size of a quarter but big enough to cause serious concern as more and more people across the country are finding it's being used for nefarious reasons.

Some people have been reporting that the device, which is meant to help people keep track of their keys and other personal items, is instead being used to keep track of them.

"I could see on the map, the Find My app, that the AirTag had dropped off in the street not far from my house," a woman from Illinois told our CBS affiliate WBBM in Chicago.

The AirTag pairs with the Bluetooth on your iPhone to connect to the Find My app and track the AirTag's location wherever you leave it.

To see how easy it was to use, we planted the device in a KDKA news car then had our photographer drive off. Within 30 minutes, we received his approximate location and directions on how to find him.

"The ability to be creative in stalking just increases and increases with technology and with time," said Nicole Molinaro, the president of the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh.

Molinaro said the use of technology like this is becoming increasingly more common, especially in cases of domestic abuse.

"One out of every 10 people admit to using some sort of stalkerware to track their partner or their ex-partner, so this is extraordinarily common," the CEO told KDKA.

However, cybersecurity experts have pointed out that Apple does have some safeguards to help discourage unwanted tracking.

"What they've done in the past couple of months is they now have it so that it plays a sound if it's around you within 8 to 24 hours. So this nice little sound pings and it plays a nice little musical thing that says, 'hey this is in proximity to you.' It'll also appear on your phone and say an AirTag is following you," said Tom Dugas, director of information security and chief information security officer at Duquesne University.

And it's not just Bluetooth devices. People can install apps and other spyware on your phone itself to keep tabs on you. Experts we spoke with said loss of battery life and data can be an indicator of this.

Here's a statement from Apple regarding the abuse of AirTags:

"We take customer safety very seriously and are committed to AirTag's privacy and security. AirTag is designed with a set of proactive features to discourage unwanted tracking — a first in the industry — that both inform users if an unknown AirTag might be with them, and deter bad actors from using an AirTag for nefarious purposes. 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."

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