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Apple and Google put down their fists and join together to combat unwanted wireless tracking

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Normally, Apple and Google are fierce competitors, especially in the smartphone business with their competing iOS and Android operating systems. Today, the two companies temporarily put down their pitchforks to announce a joint venture that aims to combat unwanted tracking of wireless devices.

Apple's press release states:

Today Apple and Google jointly submitted a proposed industry specification to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking. The first-of-its-kind specification will allow Bluetooth location-tracking devices to be compatible with unauthorized tracking detection and alerts across iOS and Android platforms.

Apple, of course, has its own AirTag device that is supposed to help people find lost luggage or other personal items. However, since the devices launched, it has been used to track actual people. In 2022, Apple set up some protections to keep AirTags from being used to track humans. Today's joint announcement with Google seems to be an extension of those efforts. The press release states that other companies that make their own Bluetooth tracking devices, including Samsung, Tile, Chipolo, eufy Security, and Pebblebee, have "expressed support for the draft specification". Hopefully, that means they will incorporate the new rules in future products.

Apple and Google will submit a draft of their unwanted wireless tracking specifications to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). Businesses and groups who have an interest in this draft will be able to make comments on it, and Apple and Google will take that feedback and make any changes to the draft. The plan is to submit the final specifications by the end of 2023, after which they will be incorporated into future updates for iOS and Android.

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