Bluetooth tracker company Tile is rolling out a new security measure that it promises will effectively make its devices invisible to stalkers, thieves, and other bad actors.
Called anti-theft mode (opens in new tab), it works by making the company’s trackers “undetectable by Scan and Secure,” a feature in Tile’s own app that allows iOS and Android users to “detect nearby Tiles.” With this new mode, the only person who knows where their device is at all times is the Tile owner.
Scan and Secure was originally designed to help people find lost or misplaced items. But then people started Misuse of other Bluetooth trackers, like Apple AirTags to stalk people. So Tile developed the feature in response to abuse and a recent spike in robbery rates. The idea behind the latter, according to the announcement, is that you’ll be able to “recover stolen valuables more easily by making it harder for thieves to know an item is being tracked.”
Anti-Theft mode rollout starts today and will be available to all users in the coming weeks. However, in order to use the feature, you have to go through a pretty rigorous verification process.
Before enabling anti-theft mode, Tile will require users to register a government-issued ID on their account and submit a biometric scan to verify their identity. Users must also accept the new terms of service, which allow the company to share their information with authorities if they are caught using the trackers for stalking. This is at Tile’s discretion as it assists with ongoing investigations, all without a subpoena. In addition, the company says it will fine people convicted of stalking for using its trackers $1 million.
Tile takes a pretty aggressive stance to ensure that no one uses its trackers for nefarious purposes. The company states that it takes “a very cooperative attitude towards law enforcement” and takes these proactive measures to deter bad actors. It’s even been criticized The latest anti-stalking update from Apple for its AirTags, calling it “inadequate for victim protection.” For those who don’t know, the iPhone sends out a notification letting users know when an unknown AirTag has been detected on their person. The AirTag will also start making a loud noise so you can find it.
We have many questions about anti-theft mode.
As TechCrunch points this out (opens in new tab), Tile’s “very cooperative” position towards the authorities is quite questionable. It is unknown if the company will fully comply with due process. After all, it is willing to give user information to the police without a subpoena or even a court order. How can it fine a convicted person $1 million and why that amount? We’re assuming this is some form of lawsuit and not a literal government fine.
It’s understandable why Tile wants to protect its user base, but it’s a bit extreme to sue people for $1 million for violating the terms of service. We reached out to a company representative to clarify these two questions and more. This story will be updated at a later date when we receive feedback.
If you’re in the cybersecurity services market with a less aggressive approach, be sure to check out TechRadars List of Best Privacy Tools for 2023.