Listings for “silent AirTags” are being posted for sale across the internet — a device that would be very easy to use for stalking purposes. To make this matter even more concerning, Etsy seems to have gone so far as to promote the silent AirTag listing in a Facebook ad.
The postings have been spotted on sites like Etsy and eBay. Eva Galperin, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s cybersecurity director, brought the listings to Twitter’s attention yesterday.
An Etsy product listing, which listed a single stealthy AirTag at $77, has since been removed by the seller. The merchant in question sent a statement to PCMag that reads:
“Much like many products in the world, there will always be a minority of people who will use them for malicious activities. Content with my ability to help people with genuine, positive uses, I listed the product without having considered the negative consequences.”
The merchant goes on to explain that it’s actually quite easy to muffle an AirTag’s chirping, either with a sticker or hardware modification, and Apple has done nowhere near enough to minimize the fallout of this trend.
Still more around — The Etsy merchant called out on Twitter, who goes by “JTEE3D,” has taken down his listing, and a quick Etsy search reveals no others that are available at the time of this writing. “I’m not affiliated with any other listings of silent AirTags,” JTEE3D said in his statement.
Etsy reached out to Input with the following statement: “AirTags are a prohibited item on the Etsy platform. This listing would have been removed directly by our team had the Seller not already removed it themselves.”
But there are still at least a few postings floating about. Notably, one on eBay uses the same product image as JTEE3D’s Etsy listing, complete with the colorful AirTag. It’s unclear whether or not this listing is genuinely connected to JTEE3D — if we choose to believe his statement, it could very well be nothing more than a copycat. That particular listing is going for approximately $81, plus $29 shipping from the U.K.
Hey, Apple, what’s up? — Following reports of AirTags being used to genuinely stalk people, Apple did implement some new measures to minimize the device’s use for nefarious purposes. The latest version of iOS will automatically alert you to the presence of AirTags that aren’t linked to your account, though not right away. An Android App called Tracker Detect will scan your immediate vicinity for unknown AirTags — but only if you remember to conduct that scan manually.
It’s become increasingly obvious that Apple needs to find some better solution to deal with this problem. AirTag stalking is becoming too prominent to ignore. What exactly Apple can do here is a bit above our pay grade. Maybe automatically disabling an AirTag if its speaker has been tampered with would be a good start. If no other solution can be found, Apple might want to consider dropping the product for good — the harm just isn’t worth it, as it stands.
Updated 2.5.22 to include a statement from Etsy.