Centering Disability in Mitigating Harms of Bluetooth Tracking Technology

Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

Centering Disability in Mitigating Harms of Bluetooth Tracking Technology 

Ariana Aboulafia

Bluetooth location-tracking devices like Apple AirTags and Tile trackers are an increasingly popular way for people to locate their misplaced items. Unfortunately, stalkers and abusers are also misusing these devices to surreptitiously track people. Your iPhone or Android device may be able to detect AirTags that don’t belong to you and are traveling with you, but there is currently no industry-wide standard that works across mobile operating systems as well as across location-tracker brands, leaving millions of people vulnerable to high-tech stalking. Moreover, some devices have options that make them incredibly difficult to detect.

People with disabilities are particularly vulnerable to misuse of trackers. For example, they are more likely to experience domestic violence than other groups, which trackers can facilitate. At the same time, people with disabilities may use trackers as a form of assistive technology to their benefit. It is vital that developments within this space consider the experiences and needs of disabled people – including, but not limited to, centering accessibility in design.

New Standard in Development

Fortunately, Google and Apple—which together provide the operating systems [...]

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