🖇 Kashmir Hill: I Used Apple AirTags, Tiles and a GPS Tracker to Watch My Husband’s Every Move
After talking to people freaked out by Apple 'AirTag detected near you' alerts, I decided to test out the location trackers currently on the market.— Kashmir Hill (@kashhill) February 11, 2022
By planting them on my husband and his belongings.
With his permission. https://t.co/I6yyIzoWZW pic.twitter.com/yMntEL1H2x
Kashmir Hill, writing for The New York Times
When my colleague and I reported on this, experts we spoke with were of two minds about Apple’s attempts to prevent nefarious use, with some saying the alerts were inadequate and others praising the company for unearthing a larger problem: widespread surreptitious tracking, usually done with devices that don’t notify a person of their presence.
I decided to examine both claims by planting three AirTags, three Tiles, and a GPS tracker on my husband and his belongings to see how precisely they revealed his movements and which ones he discovered.
If you enjoyed the above story by Kashmir you may also enjoy this one Life Without the Tech Giants, Goodbye Big Five. The story is a couple of years old but it’s just as pertinent today as it was when she wrote it.
This is a story of how, over six weeks, I cut them out of my own life and tried to prevent them from knowing about me or monetizing me in any way—not just by putting my iPhone in a drawer for a week or only buying local, but by really, truly blocking these companies from accessing me and vice versa. I wanted to find out how hard it would be—or if I could even do it—given that these tech giants dominate the internet in so many invisible ways that it’s hard to even know them all.
It’s not just logging off of Facebook; it’s logging off the countless websites that use Facebook to log in. It’s not just using DuckDuckGo instead of Google search; it’s abandoning my email, switching browsers, giving up a smartphone, and living life without mapping apps. It’s not just refusing to buy toilet paper on Amazon.com; it’s being blocked from reading giant swaths of the internet that are hosted on Amazon servers, giving up websites and apps that I didn’t previously know were connected to the biggest internet giant of them all.
People have done thought experiments before about which of the “frightful five” it would be hardest to live without, but I thought it would be more illuminating, if painful, to do an actual experiment: I would try to block a tech giant each week, to tell the tale of life without it. At the end of those five weeks, I’d try to block all of them at once. God help me.