Stalking with an Apple Watch

The malicious uses of these technologies are scary:

Police reportedly arrived on the scene last week and found the man crouched beside the woman’s passenger side door. According to the police, the man had, at some point, wrapped his Apple Watch across the spokes of the woman’s passenger side front car wheel and then used the Watch to track her movements. When police eventually confronted him, he admitted the Watch was his. Now, he’s reportedly being charged with attaching an electronic tracking device to the woman’s vehicle.

Posted on March 30, 2022 at 6:29 AM17 Comments


JR March 30, 2022 8:15 AM

The activity tracking of the watch should be interesting if he pleads innocent, and it goes to trial.

Clive Robinson March 30, 2022 8:32 AM

@ Paul,

the state has all this information on all its subjects at its fingertips ready to use when it suits the power elites.

You have that the wrong way around.

The new “power elites” are the ones that collect, store, process and pass on to the “state” all this data.

The legislators thought they were being clever by making the Silicon Valley Mega-Corps do their work for them for nothing… When in fact it’s not the Mega-Corps doing anything other than conning people, and getting a great deal of power and wealth in return.

In actuallity they legislators have given “the farm” to the Mega Corps, and way way more power than the legislators have realised (or probably cared about as long as they got their kickbacks).

Take a look into just one of them the less well known Palantir. Owned in an odd way[1] by Peter Thiel and friends. I’ve been warning about them on this blog on and off for a few years now. But I’m nolonger a “lone voice” on this others are starting to notice,

And you can be sure there is some real fire behind the smoke and mirrors when you get, a supposed major MSM being hoodwinked by the leaders words,

Thiel is misrepresenting the AI/AGI argument, very much to what will be his favour.

Also, lets put it in a more easily seen way, BitCoin is the exact opposite of the “libeterian dream” all it realy is is a “long con” investment scam in which people are going to get badly bitten when the bubble bursts and the “slow mugs” are left holding not even paper…

But what does Peter Theil do “stoke it up a notch”… That is he is telling you what he wants you to do so he can make more profit by it. He’s “shining you on” by shilling for his own benifit. It’s a form of pathological behaviour that sociopaths profit from greatly.

So more importantly what does his “shine you on” behaviour tell us about Palantir and what they do?

Basically they do nothing productive, other than draw money in for nothing. And as I’ve pointed out before, make people like detectives and analysts in the police and intelligence services redundent and thereby turn the organisations into addicts of Palantir’s product, thus under his control.

In essence Palantir get the police and intelligence agencies to type raw data in. Palantir sticks it in a data base and applies a very little course “Machine Inteligence” to turn it into crude reports and maybe predictions, but with lots of graphs and other jazzing up.

As those who typed the raw intel in, search the crap reports, Palantir watches, and builds that real “expertise” back into their alledged MI system. As some reports by chance will float, they then use those to make other reports for other “clients” who pay a lot more.

Basically it’s a pyramid of other peoples data, being refined by other people, and sold back at vast profit to other people. Not only do Palantir get paid by other people it is harming, it profits greatly by getting the raw intel and expertise without paying a thing, and sells it over and over…

But think about it, that vast profit has to come from somewhere… Well it comes from getting rid of the people supplying the expertise in the client organisations. So police detectives like inteligence analysts get axed and the supposed savings plus a lot more gets funneled into Palantir and a myriad of cutouts etc that are a worthless house of cards… But it leaves Palantir controling not just the “life blood” of information these organisations need to function, it has it’s hands around “their windpipe” and “over their eyes” in effect fully controling them…

I’ll let you figure out just how much power that gives Peter Thiel and his circle of other “Nut-Bars”.

But hey don’t take my word on it go check it out yourself.

[1] A number of these Silicon Valley Mega-Corps have strange control structures, the less than covert example is Facebook, with all it’s share holders effectively owning nothing, wirh fingers crossed that nobody bursts the bubble of their “black tulip” investment. Of course they all think they are “smarter than the market” some maybe, but…

Clive Robinson March 30, 2022 8:52 AM

@ Bruce, ALL,

The first advert that came up on the Gizmodo page you link to,

ECOVACS Deebot N8 Pro+

Which links right into the largest of the tracking Mega-Corp’s Amazon’s network of data-hovering services like Ring etc.

It made me chuckle so much it took a while for the tears of mirth to clear from my eyes so I could read the rest of the article…

Oh people might want to read Gizmodo’s updated “we own your first born” access terms.

Ted March 30, 2022 9:17 AM

Absolutely horrifying. Please tell me he’s being charged with more than attaching a tracking device to her car. If she reports that he’s previously tried to kill her, this is a 100% red alert situation. Using an expensive Apple Watch is just weird. Someone get this woman some serious help.

Ulf March 30, 2022 9:29 AM

There must be tracking devices that are a lot smaller and a lot cheaper than an Apple Watch – basically just a GPS receiver, a SIM card and a battery.

Owain March 30, 2022 11:13 AM

My iPhone regularly tells me my AirPods have been left behind, and later that an unknown accessory has been with me for a while and the owner can see my movements. I assume this is a bug because I haven’t left my AirPods behind, and it’s always my accessory that’s with me; my point is, is this Apple cottoning on to the idea that someone could use an accessory (eg Watch, AirPods, etc.) to track someone else, so if the Apple ecosystem detects an unknown accessory that matches the individual’s movements it can warn them? Could this be standardised and allow different manufacturers to detect an unknown accessory while remaining anonymous?

Clive Robinson March 30, 2022 12:38 PM

@ Ulf, ALL,

There must be tracking devices that are a lot smaller and a lot cheaper than an Apple Watch

There are, and not just Apple’s AirTag or the market opening “Tile”.

But with all the fuss about AirTags and how they now alert the person being tracked… The person wanted something else that was not going to alert the person being tracked.

Whilst tha Apple watch is around seven time more expensive than an AirTag, it is easily available, way less expensive than “professional” tracking equipment, and lets be honest most people would not consider a watch a tracking device except in James Bond style Spy Movies.

But people need to remember it’s not just Apple Watches, there is all that jogging, cycling, and other sporting / training kit that tracks not just where you are but your body stats as well.

I suspect very many of the sports monitors you can buy from China, if you take them off but leave them turned on and chucked the in your sports kit bag, they will still going to keep tracking their movment.

The simple fact is that there are so many things out there that will track you but still look innocent to most people is very high.

There is also a lot of money in selling them. If you have a $6000 push bike you are going to want to know where it is all the time, and be alerted if it moves… So buying what looks like a small rear light that actually also tracks it’s location for less than $100 could potentially save you that much on your insurance…

The thing is,

1, We all would like to track the expensive items we own.
2, Many are horified when people are tracked.

But… The technology can not tell the difference between the two.

As far as the technology is concerned there is no difference… Nor do they have behaviours / characteristics that differ (think keys in your pocket).

I could go on but the upshot is,

You can not use technology ro solve socital issues.

People realy do not seem to take that on board. If they did they would realise that they can not have “object tracking” without also having “people tracking”. If you want the good, you have to accepr the bad that comes along with it.

tim March 30, 2022 12:52 PM

There must be tracking devices that are a lot smaller and a lot cheaper than an Apple Watch – basically just a GPS receiver, a SIM card and a battery.

Yes – there have been plenty of easily available tracking devices out for a long time now and people who are smart know how to acquire and use them effectively. Put most people are idiots (especially most criminals) and will go with what they have.

Techwannab March 30, 2022 2:45 PM

@ Clive
“You have that the wrong way around.” The exact opposite? Is that what you mean?
I just started to re-read Glenn Greenwald’s book “No Place to Hide”.
So has the NSA stopped spying on US citizens?
“Private” companies are part of the spying & of the elite for sure.

lurker March 30, 2022 3:06 PM

Don’t worry, it’s just a First World problem. I guess this tracking devices activity is almost nonexistent in the non-coloured countries on the map of Conti activity @Ted linked to.

Ted March 30, 2022 3:30 PM

@Ulf, Clive

Not to mention the battery life on an Apple Watch is only 18 hours.


But most people are idiots (especially most criminals) and will go with what they have.

Yes, this case does not seem to be an exception. I don’t have all the details but apparently the couple had been using the Life360 app to track each other’s location. However, she had been turning off the app on her phone when she visited the center. But he had installed the Life360 app on the Apple Watch, and that’s how he tracked her there.

I don’t even know if Apple can add anti-stalking features for this. Life360 works via GPS, not even the Find My network.

PattiM March 30, 2022 6:42 PM

Ah, I am reminded of the naive 80’s when my company was working to hook all the LANs together and to the Internet. Life would be so much better/simpler, we said. Then viruses became a thing… Nobody anticipated where we would be now. You’d think we’d have gotten wiser in the last three decades of “making stuff.” Nope.

Roger March 31, 2022 9:58 AM

An interesting story — but also an object lesson on what passes for news in the modern world.

I found several aspects of the story odd, so I tried to track down the source. Dozens of reports, all subtly different, few citing their sources. Eventually I found that the original story came from WSMV, which claimed to have a copy of the arresting officer’s affidavit. (Although where they got that, I don’t know; I found the case docket on the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office site, and they apparently don’t release details like affidavits until it goes to trial in about 3 months.)

Anyway, the biggest deviation in this chain of Chinese whispers is how the police found the watch. According to most reports, the accused (Lawrence Welch) was arrested whilst kneeling beside the passenger-side wheel of the car at the “family safety centre”, whereupon police found the watch. For a number of reasons, that struck me as a probable load of hogwash, hence I started checking.

However, I found that the original report only says that a person reported seeing him in that location, the watch was found when police searched there, and he later admitted it was his. The person who made the allegation is not explicitly identified, but it sounds a lot like it was the same person who made all the other allegations against Welch— none of which have been substantiated at this time.

So, Air Tags, yep. Apple watches — which seem inherently unlikely — at this point are merely alleged

Quantry March 31, 2022 11:03 AM

The beacon “advertising events” are emitted by both the beacon AND the watch or phone, near as I can make out. You cant turn it off (til the battery is dead).

Any equipment capable of detecting “bluetooth low energy” should also be capable of knowing these devises are advertising themselves very nearby and to ascertain you are being shadowed, even if you can’t decrypt the content, no?


Clive Robinson March 31, 2022 4:29 PM

@ Quantry,

Any equipment capable of detecting “bluetooth low energy” should also be capable of knowing these devises are advertising themselves very nearby and to ascertain you are being shadowed,

Yes and no.

If you tune an analog radio into a digital signal all you will here is a very loud buzz of noise with potentialy a very rough tone.

If you tune a digital radio into the same signal it may show nothing at all, if the digital modulation system is different.

Quite a few digital systems even though they use the same modulation method will not show anything either due to the very frequent use of “Spread Spectrum”(SS) systems be the “Direct Sequence SS”(DSSS), “Frequency Hopping”(FHSS), or hybrid.

What you call the “Beacon” can emit two types of signal, the first is “beacon mode” or “Advertisment mode” that basically sends out a “Hi anybody there” signal designed to be picked up. When it gets a response it will switch into “Synchronised mode” which is generally a lot lower power and designed to be as minimaly invasive to other users as possible.

BLE even had a “mesh mode” that I won’t go into, but it alows hundredsds if not thousands of units to communicate in an area in as minimal way as possible.

The thing is the primary BLE decode is generally not done by software an App developer or similar would write for the main CPU, but firmware for a state/sequency machine built inside the RF front end chip, it is usually designed not to be “promiscuous” as it would overload the non RF Chip circuits with needless interupts and polling overhead which would kill battery life.

The reason Apple picks up AirTags, is that is where the money is for the way their tracking system works. It generally would treat as irrelevant even digital signals it could pick up if they were not specifically for a device it is “paired” with, and there is a limit to the number of those the RF chips can generally sync with at any one time

So whilst in theory yes a phone could pick up the hundreds of irrelevant signals near it, for the practicalities of the real world like “performance” they generally do not.

But there is a less talked about issue “encryption” is often not used even when “privacy” is desired. Put simply it’s a sort of “honour system” in that the standards are written with some very old assumptions, one being the “Deaf ear to the shout ment for others”.

Back many years ago with shared “Private Mobil Radio”(PMR) systems, individual licenced analog radio channels were used by multiple unrelated users. Motorola came up with what was later called SelCall for “selective Calling” but their marketing department quite falsely calledr it “privacy” system. It was nothing of the sort, any analog receiver on that chanbel could hear all the inrange transmissions and demodulate them to audio. It simply used a tone detector to turn on the radios “audio amplifier” in a process more correctly known as “Tone Squelch”. Part of the reason was not privacy but anti-nuisance. On a busy channel you mostly only want to hear the traffic intended for you, the rest is just a nuisance as it interfers with what you are doing, just as the more modern equivalent of mobile phone rings in a public entertainment space frequently cause anoyance to other patrons[1]. In the 1970’s “scanners” became available for the likes of Law Enforcment and in the US for journalists and the like. It was not long before youngsters were getting them as Xmas presents and the horible reality of the fact that Motorola’s privacy mode was anything but private, but people had got USd to assuming it was and much embarrassment was caused.

As I’m known to note, about ICTsec not learning from history, you get condemed to re-live it. In a way this stalking issue is a legacy of Motorola’s Marketing dept lies of “Privacy mode”. System designers rather than go to the trouble of using proper encryption instead rely on the equivalent of “tone squelch” in the RF Chips and the fact the average Jo does not know how to turn it off and be in “Promiscuous Mode”.

Of such technical “lazyness” is many a vulnerability given a foundation.

[1] There were several jokes in the 1980’s about mobile phones. One being in say a bar and a phone would ring and everybody would reach at the same time so people compared it to “Like being in the bar of the Last Chance Saloon”. Another was the observation of “Just be thankfull it’s not semaphore or we would all be concussed”. As you can probably guess there were many that were a lot less polite.

Quantry April 1, 2022 12:31 PM

@Clive Robinson

Thanks much.

So whilst in theory yes a phone could pick up the hundreds of irrelevant signals near it…

I own a hearing aid, made by Dahlberg (Rest In Peace), and a smoke detector, both of which, it seems, could pick up the initial attempts of the local Sneakers to hack my cell phone: The hearing aid would cut-out and play a sing-song of what sounded like AT commands during the handshake before the phone rang, just like the old dial-up modems sounded. I had to stop using the smoke detector, since it too rang every time, before my phone did, when I was too near it.

My life is evidently inundated with tracking and snooping devices, and if there are no low-tech direction and ranging scanners that can isolate these things, (due to the sheer number of transmitters in this planet), and in view of the corrupt system of protections, surely local broad frequency jamming is morally in order.

The veritable choke of regs on this seems to entirely favor exploitation, (h–ps://, with respect to jamming the exploits using “harmful interference”.

And lately, it seems the ‘disused’ POTS land-line coming into our building is ALSO being used as a back-haul, now that the Optical modem just energizes the original shared wiring. I suppose jamming would not clear that, but I would have to resort to similar vandalism to disconnect it at the service entrance mast.

Amazing: Enforced invasion of privacy and communication, 24×7 for decades, with no convictions. Tell me we have more rights than a dog.

Thanks again.

Andre Friedmann April 9, 2022 5:26 PM

If the crime wasn’t so awful, there would be sheer comedy to attaching larger, pricy hardware to the wheel instead of smaller, cheap hardware.

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