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Technology, as I have said before, is not good or bad but how people use it makes it so. One may use the computer to research a paper; on the other hand, that same person may use it to stalk, which would make it wrong. Using technology deliberately to harass would fall on the grounds of stalking. My friend Dr. Michael Nuccitelli, a guest on The JMOR Tech Talk Show several times, has taught us about ODDOR. Offline Distress Dictates Online Response. Dr. Nuccitelli tells us, and I quote, “Offline Distress Dictates Online Response (ODDOR) is a sub-tenet of iPredator, which posits that offline psychological functioning directly influences one’s online interactions and interpretations. “Through this article, I will educate you on how to be alert for Stalking with Apple Air Tags.

To understand what I’m referring to, it is crucial to explain what stalking is and how it transpires. According to Merriam-Webster, the word stalking is a noun. It means, and I quote, “the act or crime of willfully and repeatedly following or harassing another person in circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to fear injury or death especially because of express or implied threats” or “broadly: a crime of engaging in the course of conduct directed at a person that serves no legitimate purpose and seriously alarms, annoys, or intimidates that person.” 

Anytime you feel that you are seriously alarmed, seriously annoyed, and either someone is intimidating you or making you think your life is in danger, it should be reported immediately so a temporary restraining order may be issued. When obtaining this order, it is vital that you express to the police/court that the order of protection should cover no contact from any electronic means or in-person contact. It is essential to understand that this is a punishable, severe criminal offense and carries an additional charge called aggravated when conduct is repeated after a restraining order is issued.

Last April 2022, Apple released AirTags, which are small disc-shaped objects that allow the Find My Network application to locate the Air Tag. They allow you to purchase them, add them to your account, and attach them to things that commonly get lost: keys, wallet, backpack, etc. Apple and many software developers/providers ask you to agree to their TOS (Terms and Conditions) before using, but many never do. Under Apple’s TOS, it is a violation to stick these devices on any property, including but not limited to other’s cars, vehicles, recreational vehicles, boats, or people. 

When you receive an Apple Air Tag, you must remove the battery tab and hold it near your iPhone. Next, tap connect on the screen of your iPhone, give it a name, and press continue. Then the serial number from that AirTag will be associated with your Apple ID. Remember to click on finish, and your new Apple Air Tag is ready to use. Apple then uses a fraction under 2 billion iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs to track the tag’s location. Anytime you open the Find My App on your device, and the device is in range, it will show a map pinpointing its location. 

Since Apple is very secretive about many of its practices and specifications, we know that a typical Apple Air Tag may be shown in an accuracy of about 100 meters or 328 Feet. Thus, in the past, it would be straightforward for a bad actor to plant one of these on your car or in your things and then track, stalk and potentially put you in harm’s way.

Now that you know how it happens, I must share with you how to be aware and be the most protected you can be. Please make sure that your iPhone is at 16.02 iOS or later, be observant of your surroundings, and pay attention to any doors/windows that are unlocked that you previously left locked. Something I learned back when I was in Italy my first time taught me of a clever technique they use and is still employed today. First, someone approaches from one direction, opposite where you have your wallet/purse, etc., and pulls your clothing out, begging for money and help. The kind person you are wants to help and may even think about giving some money, but just as you are about to check for your wallet, they run away, and you discover you have been pickpocketed.

Today, the tactic is not to pickpocket or steal your purse but to plant something on you in your pocket, packet, bag, etc., which may happen with the technique above or a simple bump. Also, be leery of extra friendly people wanting to help you with everything, as they may be hired to plant a tracker on you. 

Now that this update is installed, thanks to Apple’s proactiveness efforts in response to several law enforcement cases of stalking, new improvements have security features have been added. The Apple AirTag will be aware if it moves with another Apple device that does not belong to the tag’s owner for some time. Furthermore, if your iPhone device is awake when the tag separates from the original owner, an alert will be heard to notify you that the device has been moved. Also, the tag will emit a sound to let people know that it has been separated from its owner and is either lost or may be used illegally. Should law enforcement suspect an Air Tag is illegally tracking a person, can the information be requested from Apple to submit the investigation?

On your iPhone, you enable the following settings:  click on Go to settings – privacy – location services -on, Go to settings – privacy – location services -Turn Find My iPhone On, Got to settings – privacy – location services – System Services and turn significant locations on to be notified when you arrive at a significant site such as your home, office, etc. Go to setting – Bluetooth – turn on, Go to Find my app, tap me tab, turn to track on.

Thank you, Apple, Law Enforcement, and other Authorities, for getting them to make this enhancement that will make stalking almost impossible with Apple Air Tags. Lastly, if you detect an unknown AirTag or Accessory, Tap the Alert, Tap Continue, and Play Sound; listen for Sound and repeat the sound till you find it. Could you take a screenshot by holding the left top button and right side phone button and then save it to your photos? Next, as per Apple and I quote, “Push down and twist counterclockwise on the back of the AirTag. Take the cover off and remove the battery. Once you remove the battery, the location of this AirTag is no longer visible to its owner”.

Thus, in conclusion, remember to use technology for good and be aware of your surroundings and the people you are interacting with. Notice patterns that are always the same and suddenly change, which could indicate a potential hack on your security. Remember stalking is no joke, openly communicate with friends to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings that become legal. Take time to understand how Apple AirTags work, how to disable them, and their safety features, as mentioned, so confusion doesn’t prevent you from taking action.