AirTag competitor Tile today announced a new Anti-Theft Mode for Tile tracking devices, which is designed to make Tile accessories undetectable by the anti-stalking Scan and Secure feature.
Scan and Secure is a security measure that Tile implemented in order to allow iPhone and Android users to scan for and detect nearby Tile devices to keep them from being used for stalking purposes. Unfortunately, Scan and Secure undermines the anti-theft capabilities of the Tile because a stolen device’s Tile can be located and removed, something also possible with similar security features added for AirTags.
Tile’s Anti-Theft Mode disables Scan and Secure so a Tile tracking device will not be able to be located by a person who does not own the tracker. To prevent stalking with Anti-Theft Mode, Tile says that customers must register using multi-factor identification and agree to stringent usage terms, which include a $1 million fine if the device ends up being used to track a person without their consent.
The Anti-Theft Mode option is meant to make it easier to locate stolen items by preventing thieves from knowing an item is being tracked. Tile points out that in addition to Anti-Theft Mode, its trackers do not notify nearby smartphone users when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is traveling with them, making them more useful for tracking stolen items than AirTags. Apple has added alerts for nearby AirTags to prevent AirTags from being used for tracking people.
Unlike other Bluetooth trackers on the market, namely AirTags, Tile does not notify nearby smartphone users when an unknown Bluetooth tracker is traveling with 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. Some competitor products go as far as to issue an audible beep once the tracker has been separated from its owner, making it clear that a tracker is present and enabling thieves to find it with precision. The proactive notifications found in the Bluetooth tracker industry were designed to prevent stalking; however, these anti-stalking measures have been criticized for being insufficient for victim protection. Instead, these alerts have the possibility of making Bluetooth trackers easily identifiable by thieves.
Enabling Anti-Theft mode will require users to link a government-issued ID card to their Tile account, submitting to an “advanced ID verification process” that uses a biometric scan to detect fake IDs.
The ID sync is meant to deter people from using Tile trackers for stalking or other nefarious purposes. Tile says that any individual convicted of using Tile devices to illegally track another individual without their consent will be fined $1 million, wording that is in the Tile terms of service. Tile says it is also taking a “highly collaborative stance” with law enforcement, and users who turn on Anti-Theft Mode acknowledge that their personal information “can and will” be shared with law enforcement officials in cases of suspected stalking.
Tile claims that these usage terms are “progressive safety measures” that will protect people from being stalked with Tile devices.
Anti-Theft Mode is rolling out to Tile users starting today, and will be available to all users in the coming weeks.