“Look Out, You’re Being Followed!”

Women traveling around NYC have become wary to take caution for their safety due to the incidents reported and the increase in crime rates. Women have reported on different types of danger they’ve encountered such as gadgets being used to trace their locations whether they walk from place to place or drive around in their vehicles. It is easy to slip onto people’s pockets or purses these small devices to be followed, tracking your every single move. 

Gadgets like the Apple Air tag, Tile, or Samsung SmartTag tracker are being used to stalk people. While these inventions were created as a tool to help people locate lost keys, bags, or other items, the use of these devices is being abused. “Apple has built-in certain protections to discourage unwanted tracking, but it’s still possible for someone to slip an AirTag into your bag or car without your consent and track your location.” However, these built-in safeguards to prevent people from being tracked may not be enough to protect victims. Unfortunately, there are few ways to detect if the air tag or similar device is being used on you. 

The AirTag uses a combination of sensors, wireless signals, and other networks to help locate the lost item. During the launch, it included a notification like “AirTag Found Moving With You” only if you have an iPhone/iPad or other Apple paired devices. Apple also released Tracker Detect App for Android that allows you to search for and track items. “Technology doesn’t cause abuse, but it can facilitate it, Olsen said. Abusive people will use any tactic they can to establish power and control so it’s not uncommon for someone to be misusing a number of technologies and perpetrating non-tech-related abuse as well.”

Additionally, victims like Ashley Estrada who was with her friends when she’d received the strange alert on her iPhone, “AirTag Detected Near You.” A map of the AirTag’s history showed the zigzag path Ms. Estrada had driven across the city while running errands. “I felt so violated,” she said. “I just felt like, who’s tracking me? What was their intent with me? It was scary.” The quarter-sized tracker was lodged in a space behind the license plate of her 2020 Dodge Charger. “Apple probably released this product with the intent to do good, but this shows that the technology can be used for good and bad purposes,” Ms. Estrada said.

Ms. Estrada is not the only one who came forward and shared her experience, in recent months many other women shared their say on social media platforms such as TikTok, Reddit, and Twitter who found this tracker on their cars and in their belongings. “The network that Apple has access to is larger and more powerful than that used by the other trackers. It’s more powerful for tracking and more dangerous for stalking.” Apple does not disclose sales figures, but the tiny $29 AirTags have proved popular, selling out consistently since their unveiling.

Furthermore, it is important to note your surroundings and the precaution to take to protect yourself from danger when encountering situations similar to what these women had experienced. If you believe your safety is at risk, Apple advises contacting your local law enforcement, who can work with the company (you might need to provide the AirTag or its serial number). The most basic form of protection is to manually search yourself and your car for places where an AirTag may have slipped — the pockets of your clothes or bags, or under cushions, for example. Before getting into your vehicle it is also a good idea to conduct a visual inspection to check signs if someone may or may not have attached a tracker to your car which can be spotted on your license plate or any other blind spots. 

If an AirTag is found on you, you may easily disable it to stop sharing your location “by twisting counter-clockwise on the back by the Apple logo and taking the battery out. The person on the other end will no longer be able to see your location.” As a reminder, it is always safe to take percussion, so the next time you head out on an adventure have your senses alerted not only by your surroundings but as well as checking yourself from having a tracker slipped into your pockets. 

Muhsha Taz

My name is Muhsha Taz, most people know me as outgoing and down-to-earth. I am a senior and my shop’s CTE class is automotive technology. The reason for writing this section is because of the passion I share for being a food lover. I try to go out to places in NYC to try hot trendy food and mainly halal food. My hobby is to go out and try new things whether it is an activity such as ice skating or bowling, or going out to eat with my friends and determining if it is a worthy spot to dine in.