(WASHINGTON) — The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) and the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) applaud Apple and Google’s joint release of a standards proposal to help combat the misuse of Bluetooth location-tracking devices for unwanted tracking. The announcement follows advocacy from CDT and NNEDV for companies to take such steps to lessen misuses of Bluetooth tracking devices.
CDT President and CEO Alexandra Reeve Givens says:
“Bluetooth tracking devices are meant to help people find misplaced keys or luggage, but it’s currently too easy to use these devices, surreptitiously, to track people.
Today’s announcement of draft best practices and protocols to detect unknown trackers is a welcome step; it promises to make these devices more detectable and reduce the likelihood that they will be used to track people without their knowledge. A key element to reducing misuse is a universal, platform-level solution that is able to detect trackers made by different companies on the variety of smartphones that people use everyday.
We thank Apple and Google for their partnership and dedication to mitigating the harms of location tracker technology. There is still much more work to be done to standardize, implement, and adopt protocols and software for detecting and disabling location trackers used for unwanted tracking. We encourage device manufacturers, platform developers, and civil society organizations to collaborate in that effort.”
NNEDV’s Senior Director of the Safety Net Project Erica Olsen added:
“Unwanted surveillance is an all too common tactic of abuse and it’s imperative for advocates and technology companies to work together on solutions to minimize the opportunities for misuse. These draft standards to allow detection of unwanted trackers is a significant step forward in the work to increase safety and privacy. Solutions need to be grounded in universal standards to address the issue from the point of design and keep the burden of identifying trackers off the people who are being tracked. We appreciate the work Apple and Google are doing together to address the misuse of bluetooth tracking devices. We encourage others involved in this industry to join these efforts to increase privacy and safety for all.”
CDT and NNEDV have been working together to develop and advocate for meaningful solutions that companies can implement to lessen the harms associated with misuse of Bluetooth tracking devices. The organizations laid out the key components of a solution that would provide greater protection from unwanted surveillance in a recent joint op-ed. Today’s announcement embraces a number of actions CDT and NNEDV have called for, and is a critical first step towards the adoption of an industry-wide standard to reduce the risks of how Bluetooth location trackers can be misused.
The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) is the leading nonpartisan, nonprofit organization fighting to advance civil rights and civil liberties in the digital age. We shape technology policy, governance, and design with a focus on equity and democratic values. Established in 1994, CDT has been a trusted advocate for digital rights since the earliest days of the internet.