One woman described her experience of being secretly followed by someone who secretly put an Apple AirTag on her.
Hannah Rose May, an Irish writer and actress, said her location was tracked for two hours without her knowledge in Disneyland, California, on a Saturday night in June.
She eventually realized she was being tracked simply because the tag connected to her smartphone via Bluetooth and sent her a notification.
It is not known who slipped the coin-sized device into her or where exactly it was hidden without her knowledge – possibly in her purse or trouser pocket.
“The happiest place on earth could easily have turned into my worst nightmare,” she tweeted.
A number of reports in the US have already claimed that people are being unknowingly being tracked with AirTags, possibly by stalkers, thieves and sex offenders.
Released by Apple in 2021, AirTags are small, circular tracking devices, a little larger than a two-pound coin. An AirTag costs £29; Keychains are sold separately (file photo)
Hannah Rose May (pictured) is an Irish writer and actress who attended an event at Disneyland California
May detailed her experience of being secretly tracked by an AirTag on June 25 in a Twitter thread
WHAT ARE AIRTAGS?
Released by Apple in 2021, AirTags are small, circular tracking devices a little larger than a £2 coin and retail for £29 each.
Users can find personal items that are AirTagged — like wallets, keys, luggage, or even a stolen bike — by using a map in Apple’s Find My app.
But AirTag owners are increasingly using the coin-sized devices to plant people without their knowledge and then track their whereabouts on the Find My map.
The incident happened on June 25 while May was attending an after-hours event at Disneyland, California.
She said she only found out she was being tracked after two hours because she received a notification from the Find My app.
“I received a Find My notification at the end of the night that I didn’t think about, but opened it anyway and it turned out that … someone was stalking me for two hours,” May said in a Twitter thread.
“Airtags are the size of a coin. It’s scary how easily they can be slipped into a pocket or purse.
“Originally created to locate your keys, it’s obvious they’re being used for more bad than good.”
AirTags can connect to nearby smartphones via Bluetooth, allowing a “Find My” notification to appear on a person’s phone when an unknown AirTag is found “travelling” with them, even if they have the “Find My ” app has not installed .
Apple has also developed an app for Android devices called Tracker Detect to allow Android devices to detect AirTags as well as iPhones.
Users can also assign an AirTag to an item and name it with a default name like “keys” or “jacket” or provide a custom name of their choice. Once AirTag is set up, it appears in the new Items tab in the Find My app, where users can view the item’s current or last known location on a map
It’s a small, round device with an Apple logo in the center and comes with Bluetooth connectivity to pair with an iPhone or iPad. With the Find My app, the system provides step-by-step instructions on how to locate the label and the missing product
The Find My notification on May’s phone read: “Your current location can be seen by the owner of this item. You may be carrying this item or it may be nearby. If you don’t know this item, you can turn it off and stop sharing your location.
May said she was grateful to Apple for the notification, but added that she felt “it should notify us sooner if we’re being tracked.”
She also shared a screenshot of where she traveled while being followed – from anywhere in Disneyland to a parking lot just off South Harbor Boulevard, where she disabled it.
When asked for comment on the incident, an Apple spokesperson sent MailOnline a statement released in February following reports in the media of misuse of the technology.
“AirTag was designed to help people find their personal belongings, not to track anyone or anyone else’s property, and we strongly condemn any malicious use of our products,” the statement said.
May shared a screenshot of where she traveled while being tracked by the AirTag — from anywhere in Disneyland to a parking lot just off South Harbor Boulevard, where she deactivated the device
“Unwanted tracking has long been a societal concern, and we took this concern seriously when designing AirTag.
“That’s why the Find My network is built with privacy in mind, uses end-to-end encryption, and why we’ve innovated with the first-ever proactive system that alerts you to unwanted tracking. ”
Apple also said that incidents of AirTag abuse are rare, but that “any case is one too many.”
The company also confirmed that it has identified “additional improvements” it can make to assist law enforcement with AirTag-related inquiries.
Apple’s AirTags can be personalized with a custom message or emoji on their laser-etched stainless steel case. They are small enough to be slipped into a person’s pocket or clothing without their knowledge
Additionally, Apple said it’s exploring a new “precision search” feature that would allow people to precisely locate unknown AirTags and tune the tone of the unwanted tracking alert tone to make the device easier to find.
According to a Vice investigation earlier this year, 150 police reports from dozens of US police departments over an eight-month period had involved AirTags.
Of the 150 reports, 50 involved women who called the police after receiving notifications that their location was being tracked by an AirTag they did not have.
In one case, a woman called police to report that her ex had slashed her tires and left an AirTag in the car to watch her.
WOMEN SHOW FEAR OF STALKERS AFTER FINDING APPLE AIRTAG DEVICES HIDDEN IN THEIR CARS
Women across the US have reported horror stories of finding Apple AirTag locators hidden in their cars, bags, coats and other belongings.
The $30 wireless devices were designed to keep track of items people often misplace, like keys or wallets, but have been increasingly reported to be used by suspected stalkers to track down women.
A young mother in Texas said she found an AirTag in her holdall on her trip from Texas to Maine.
“I think they would definitely have hurt me. I don’t think you do that without a reason,” she told Inside Edition. “It was almost 14 hours before I knew this was happening,” she said.
Another woman in Atlanta contacted police after being notified she was being followed by an AirTag.
“I happened to get a notification on my phone saying something about there being an AirTag that wasn’t mine that was with me,” the woman told police.
Bodycam footage recorded the scene as police helped the woman search her car and eventually found an AirTag in her gas tank.