Unauthorized AirTag tracking set to become illegal in Pennsylvania

Technology comes with its pros and cons, and among modern Apple devices that’s been especially true with AirTag. Like other Bluetooth trackers, since their debut AirTags have been used by stalkers and other bad actors to track others without their consent or knowledge. Authorities have begun taking action, with Pennsylvania the latest state to move toward criminalization of unauthorized trackers.

From AP News:

The state House of Representatives voted 199-1 to approve legislation that would make using a tracking device to secretly track another person part of Pennsylvania’s laws against stalking. The crime would be punishable as a third-degree misdemeanor, or up to 90 days in jail.

Shortly after their launch in 2021, it became abundantly clear how easily AirTags can be misused for unauthorized tracking. Not even a year after their debut, Apple issued a unique public statement expressing its resolve to introduce new features to protect users and prevent future unwanted tracking. Their efforts eventually led to a formal partnership with Google to create more safe and secure Bluetooth tracker use, and recently discovered code in iOS 17.5 indicates the fruit of those efforts will be coming soon to iOS devices.

9to5Mac’s Take

AirTags have been a major pain point for Apple when it comes to negative press and encounters with the law, and this legislation is yet more evidence that Apple has more work to do in limiting AirTag abuse. I hope the coming updates in iOS 17.5 will prove effective enough to make further legislation unnecessary. However, with three years having already passed since AirTag entered the market, I understand why lawmakers aren’t waiting around. One way or another, hopefully these persistent issues of Bluetooth tracker misuse can soon become a thing of the past.

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Ryan Christoffel