By Tyler Durden
Tracking devices can sometimes be useful: you can attach one to your phone or wallet and know where it is at all times, for example.
But the Bluetooth and ultra-wideband (UWB) tracking devices are moving towards a “dangerous new era”, according to a new writeup by Android Authority.
The devices are getting so small, prominent and widely available that risks of both stalking and general surveillance using them can no longer be ignored, the piece argues.
It calls stalking the “biggest and most obvious threat”. It can happen when a tracker, usually a thin tile-like piece of plastic, gets slipped into someone’s bag, vehicle or clothing, tracking them everywhere they go.
One such instance of stalking took place in 2018 when a woman in Houston said she found a Tile planted inside the console of her car, which her ex was using to follow her. The ex was charged with a misdemeanor as a result.
Even overaggressive parents could take advantage of the trackers, the article argues: “An abusive husband could use trackers to follow their spouse to a shelter or the police. An overprotective mother could prevent their child from going anywhere but home or school.”
Surveillance is another way trackers can be abused. Android Authority writes:
The more items a person tracks through first- or third-party apps, the more comprehensive surveillance can theoretically become. Let’s say you have a tracker on your backpack or laptop. If your phone and the tracker leave for a specific place every morning, it’s not hard to guess that the origin is your home, and the destination is an office or worksite. Placing another tracker on a TV remote immediately confirms your home location, and if you’re monitoring headphones or a personal electric vehicle, hackers can pick out some of your favorite haunts, like parks or the gym.
Hacking into a phone could even allow an attacker to figure out where in a building devices are kept, or where a specific person sits and sleeps, the report says: “In the wrong hands, this data could be used to plan burglaries or even murders.”
Tracking apps could eventually even become the target of ransomware attackers, the piece suggests. And, with everything from shoes to cars in the future moving toward being trackable, you may not even know when or how you’re being watched.
Finally, the idea of government intrusion using such apps and trackers also becomes an obvious cautionary point. “More trackers translate into more data points for surveillance and suppressing dissent,” the piece concludes.
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