Tile adds anti-theft mode that makes its trackers undetectable, threatens $1 million fine if used for stalking
It requires an extensive verification processBy Rob Thubron 9 comments
In context: Tackers such as Apple's AirTags are becoming an increasingly popular way of keeping track of items such as car keys, but while they might discourage thefts, they've also made it a lot easier for people to follow someone without them realizing. Tile's new Anti-Theft Mode makes the trackers more difficult to discover, which is potentially bad news for thieves but good news for stalkers. However, Tile is threatening anyone who engages in the latter with a $1 million fine.
Like Apple, Tile previously introduced an anti-stalking feature called Scan and Secure for its Bluetooth trackers, enabling Tile app users to quickly scan for and detect nearby Tiles and Tile-enabled devices that may be traveling with them.
However, the feature meant thieves who stole items could easily check if they were carrying a concealed Tile tracker. To prevent this, the company has introduced Anti-Theft Mode, which makes Tile devices invisible to Scan and Secure. As Tile puts it, the mode "makes it easier to recover stolen valuables by making it harder for thieves to know an item is being tracked."
To stop stalkers from exploiting Anti-Theft Mode, Tile owners who want to activate the feature must undergo a stringent ID verification process. It involves syncing a government-issued ID with an account, submitting to a biometric scan to root out fake IDs, and acknowledging that personal information can and will be shared with law enforcement.
As a final deterrent, anyone convicted in a court of law of using a Tile tracking device to illegally track any individual without their knowledge or consent could face a $1 million fine as per the terms of service. The company wrote that "Tile is eliminating anonymity and bringing in the latest ID verification technology to its Anti-Theft Mode offering."
Tile claims its solution is better than what Apple offers with its AirTags: a notification that alerts users when a tracker is detected as possibly following them. "These proactive notifications can communicate to thieves that a tracker is on the stolen item, allowing them to remove it and making recovering the item less likely," claims Tile, which adds that "these anti-stalking measures have been criticized for being insufficient for victim protection."
Anti-Theft Mode can be activated for any Bluetooth-enabled tracker in Tile's lineup, including the Tile Pro, Tile Mate, Tile Slim, and Tile Sticker.
In April last year, a survey of police records showed that one-third of AirTag incidents involved stalking - most of the other reports were related to robberies and thefts.