Internet-Draft Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers December 2023
Ledvina, et al. Expires 22 June 2024 [Page]
Network Working Group
Intended Status:
B. Ledvina
Z. Eddinger
B. Detwiler
S. P. Polatkan

Detecting Unwanted Location Trackers


This document lists a set of best practices and protocols for accessory manufacturers whose products have built-in location-tracking capabilities. By following these requirements and recommendations, a location-tracking accessory will be compatible with unwanted tracking detection and alerts on mobile platforms. This is an important capability for improving the privacy and safety of individuals in the circumstance that those accessories are used to track their location without their knowledge or consent.

About This Document

This note is to be removed before publishing as an RFC.

Status information for this document may be found at

Status of This Memo

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This Internet-Draft will expire on 22 June 2024.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

This document’s goal is to, in part, help protect the privacy of individuals from unwanted tracking by location-tracking accessories. Location-tracking accessories provide numerous benefits to consumers, but, as with all technology, it is possible for them to be misused. Misuse of location-tracking accessories can result in unwanted tracking of individuals or items for nefarious purposes such as stalking, harassment, and theft. This document is focused on protecting people from misuse of location-tracking accessories. Formalizing a set of best practices for manufacturers will allow for scalable compatibility with unwanted tracking detection technologies on various smartphone platforms and improve privacy and security for individuals.

Unwanted tracking detection can both detect and alert individuals that a location tracker separated from the owner's device is traveling with them, as well as provide means to find and disable the tracker. This document outlines technical best practices for location tracker manufacturers, which will allow for their compatibility with unwanted tracking detection and alerting technology on platforms.

1.1. Conventions and Definitions

The key words "MUST", "MUST NOT", "REQUIRED", "SHALL", "SHALL NOT", "SHOULD", "SHOULD NOT", "RECOMMENDED", "NOT RECOMMENDED", "MAY", and "OPTIONAL" in this document are to be interpreted as described in BCP 14 [RFC2119] [RFC8174] when, and only when, they appear in all capitals, as shown here.

1.2. Terminology

Throughout this document, these terms have specific meanings:

  • The term platform is used to refer to mobile device hardware and associated operating system. Examples of mobile devices are phones, tablets, laptops, etc.

  • The term accessory is used to refer to any product intended to interface with a platform through the means described in this specification.

  • The term owner device is a device that is associated with the accessory and can retrieve the accessory’s location.

  • The term non-owner device refers to a device that may connect to an accessory but is not an owner device of that accessory.

  • The term location-tracking accessory refers to any accessory that has location-tracking capabilities, including, but not limited to, crowd-sourced location, GPS/GNSS location, WiFi location, cell location, etc., and provides the location information back to the owner of the accessory via the internet, cellular connection, etc.

  • The term location-enabled state refers to the state an accessory in where its location can be remotely viewed by its owner

  • The term location-enabled advertisement payload refers to the Bluetooth (BT) advertisement payload that is advertised when an accessory has recently, is currently, or will in the future provide location updates to its owner

  • The term unwanted tracking (UT) refers to undesired tracking of a person, their property, or their belongings by a location-enabled accessory.

  • The term unwanted tracking detection refers to the algorithms that detect the presence of an unknown accessory traveling with a person over time.

  • The term unwanted tracking alert refers to notifying the user of the presence of an unrecognized accessory that may be traveling with them over time and allows them to take various actions, including playing a sound on the accessory if it’s in Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) range.

  • The term platform-compatible method refers to a method of communication between the platform and the accessory/accessory manufacturers to exchange information, including, but not limited to, BT GATT protocol, BT advertisement, HTTP, etc.

2. Background

2.1. Applicability

These best practices are REQUIRED for location-enabled accessories that are small and not easily discoverable. For large accessories, such as a bicycle, these best practices are RECOMMENDED.

Accessories are considered easily discoverable if they meet one of the following criteria:

  • The item is larger than 30 cm in at least one dimension.

  • The item is larger than 18 cm x 13 cm in two of its dimensions.

  • The item is larger than 250 cm3 in three-dimensional space.

3. Requirements

3.1. Overview

This section details requirements and recommendations for best practices for location-enabled accessory manufacturers to allow unwanted tracking detection by platform makers.

3.2. Bluetooth Low Energy

The accessory SHALL use Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) as the transport protocol. This enables platforms to detect and connect to accessories.

3.2.1. Advertising

The accessory SHALL advertise using Bluetooth LE.

3.2.2. Connection

The accessory MUST support at least one non-owner unencrypted connection in a peripheral role. The connection interval of the Bluetooth LE link between the device and accessory MAY depend on the type of user interaction. Non-owner connections to the accessory SHALL be implemented using a platform-compatible method, e.g., BT GATT service.

3.3. Location Tracking

The location-enabled accessory has location capabilities via Bluetooth crowd-sourcing, GPS/GNSS location, WiFi location, cellular location, or by some other means. Furthermore, the accessory has a way to communicate its location to its owner via a network (e.g., cell network, crowd-sourced location via Bluetooth, etc.).

The accessory SHALL maintain an internal state that detects when its location is, or has been, available to the owner via a network. This state is called the location-enabled state.

Misuse of location-enabled accessories can occur when the owner’s device is not physically with the accessory. Thereby, the accessory SHOULD maintain a second internal state, denoted the near-owner state, which indicates if the accessory is connected to or nearby one or more of the owner’s devices. Near-owner state can take on two values, either near-owner mode or separated mode. Near-owner mode is denoted as the opposite of separated mode.

Figure 1 details the requirements and recommendations for advertising the location-enabled payload based on the location-enabled state and separated state.

                         |      Location       |
                         |  Currently Enabled  |
                         |         OR          |
                         |  Enabled in Past 24 |
                         |        Hours        |
    |         near-owner |        MAY          |
    |            mode    | advertise location- |
    | Near-              |  enabled payload    |
    | Owner              +---------------------|
    | State    separated |   MUST advertise    |
    |            mode    |  location-enabled   |
    |                    |     payload         |
Figure 1: Requirements & Recommendations For Advertising Location-Enabled Payload

If the accessory maker chooses to continue advertising the location-enabled payload while in near-owner mode, setting the near-owner bit (Section 3.8) compensates for this.

3.4. Location-enabled Bluetooth LE Advertisement Payload

3.4.1. Overview

When in location-enabled state, the accessory SHALL advertise a Bluetooth LE format, denoted the location-enabled Bluetooth advertisement payload, that is recognizable to the platforms.

3.4.2. Location-enabled advertisement payload format

The payload format is defined in Table 1

Table 1: Location-Enabled Payload Format
Bytes Description Requirement
0-5 MAC address REQUIRED
6-8 Flags TLV; length = 1 byte, type = 1 byte, value = 1 byte OPTIONAL
9-12 Service Data TLV; length = 1 byte, type = 0x16, value = 0xFCB2 REQUIRED
13 Network ID REQUIRED
14 Near-owner bit (1 bit, least significant bit) + reserved (7 bits) REQUIRED
15-36 Proprietary company payload data OPTIONAL

When Flags TLV are not added, the MAC address type needs to be set to random. This implies that if Bluetooth LE pairing is supported, the accessory SHALL NOT use its public address as its public identity when exchanging pairing keys at phase 3 (see Vol.3, Part H, Section 2.1 of the [BTCore5.4]) and it SHALL only use a static random address. Additionally, the LE advertisement needs to be connectable to allow for non-owner unencrypted connections to the accessory. Further details are discussed in Section 3.10.

Proprietary company payload data is both OPTIONAL and variable length.

3.4.3. Duration of advertising location-enabled advertisement payload

The accessory SHALL broadcast the location-enabled advertisement payload if location is available to the owner or was available any time within the past 24 hours. This allows unwanted tracking detection to operate both between and beyond the specific moments an accessory's location is made available to the owner.

3.4.4. Maximum duration after physical separation from owner to transition into separated mode

The accessory SHALL transition from near-owner mode to separated mode under the conditions listed in Table 2 below.

Table 2: Advertising Policy
Preferred Acceptable
The accessory has been physically separated from the owner device for more than 30 minutes The accessory has been physically separated from the owner device for more than 30 minutes AND The owner of the accessory has received a more recent location update for that accessory after 30 minutes

3.4.5. Maximum duration after reunification with owner to transition into near-owner mode

The accessory SHALL transition from separated to near-owner mode if it has reunited with the owner device for a duration no longer than 30 minutes.

3.5. MAC address

The Bluetooth LE advertisement payload SHALL contain an address in the 6-byte Bluetooth MAC address field which looks random to all parties while being recognizable by the owner device. The address type SHALL be set as a non-resolvable private address or as a static device address, as defined in Random Device Address in Vol 6, Part B, Section 1.3.2 of the [BTCore5.4].

The owner MUST be able to predict the MAC address or the payload advertised by the accessory at any given time in order to suppress unwanted tracking alerts caused by a device’s owned accessory. See Owned Accessory Identification (Section 6.1) for additional details.

The address SHALL rotate periodically (see Rotation policy (Section 3.5.1)); otherwise if the same address is used for long periods of time, an adversary may be able to track a legitimate person carrying the accessory through local Bluetooth LE scanning devices. Same rules apply to any other identifiable content of the advertised payload.

A general approach to generate addresses meeting this requirement these properties is to construct them using a Pseudo-Random Function (PRF) taking as input a key established during the association of the accessory and either a counter or coarse notion of time. The counter or coarse notion of time allows for the address to change periodically. The key allows the owner devices to predict the sequence of addresses for the purposes of recognizing its associated accessories.

This construction allows accessories to define their own MAC address generation process while also providing a means to meet the requirements for owned accessory identification (Section 6.1).

3.5.1. Rotation policy

An accessory SHALL rotate its address on any transition from near-owner state to separated state as well as any transition from separated state to near-owner state.

When in near-owner state, the accessory SHALL rotate its address every 15 minutes. This is a privacy consideration to deter tracking of the accessory by non-owners when it is in physical proximity to the owner.

When in a separated state, the accessory SHALL rotate its address every 24 hours. This duration allows a platform's unwanted tracking algorithms to detect that the same accessory is in proximity for some period of time, when the owner is not in physical proximity.

3.6. Service data TLV

The Service data TLV with a 2-byte UUID value of 0xFCB2 provides a way for platforms to easily scan for and detect the location-enabled Bluetooth advertisement.

3.7. Network ID

The 1-byte Network ID SHALL be set based on a registered value for the manufacturer, as defined in Manufacturer Network ID Registry (Section 10.1).

3.8. Near-owner bit

It is important to prevent unwanted tracking alerts from occurring when the owner of the accessory is in physical proximity of the accessory, i.e., it is in near-owner mode. In order to allow suppression of unwanted tracking alerts for an accessory advertising the location-enabled advertisement with the owner nearby, the accessory MUST set the near-owner bit to be 1 when the near-owner state is in near-owner mode, otherwise the bit is set to 0. Table 3 specifies the values of this bit.

The near-owner bit MUST be the least significant bit.

Table 3: Near-Owner Bit
Near-owner Bit Value Near-owner state
1 Near-owner mode
0 Separated mode

3.9. Bluetooth LE advertising interval

The detection rate performance has a dependency on the BLE advertising interval used. A maximum advertising interval of 4 seconds SHALL be used; for the best detection rate, the advertising interval SHOULD be less than or equal to 2 seconds.

3.10. Accessory Connections

The accessory non-owner service UUID SHALL be 15190001-12F4-C226-88ED-2AC5579F2A85. This service SHALL use GATT over LE. The non-owner accessory service SHALL be instantiated as a primary service. The accessory non-owner characteristic UUID SHALL be 8E0C0001-1D68-FB92-BF61-48377421680E.

3.10.1. Byte transmission order

The characteristic used within this service SHALL be transmitted with the least significant octet first (that is, little endian).

3.10.2. Maximum transmission unit

Data fragmentation and reassembly is not defined in this document; therefore, the accessory SHALL NOT request an MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit) smaller than the maximum length of its write responses for the opcodes defined in Non-owner controls (Section 3.12.4) and Section 3.11.1. In other words, all opcode response data must fit within a single write operation.

3.11. Accessory Information

The following accessory information MUST be persistent through the lifetime of the accessory: Product data (Section, Manufacturer name (Section, Model name (Section, Accessory category (Section, Accessory capabilities (Section, Network ID (Section 3.7), and Battery Type (Section

3.11.1. Opcodes

The opcodes for accessory information are defined in Table 4.

Table 4: Accessory Information Opcodes
Opcode Opcode value Operands GATT subprocedure Requirement
Get_Product_Data 0x003 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x803 Product Data (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
0x004 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x804 Manufacturer Name (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
Get_Model_Name 0x005 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x805 Model Name (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
0x006 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x806 Accessory Category (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
0x007 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x807 Protocol Implementation Version (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
0x008 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x808 Accessory Capabilities (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
Get_Network_ID 0x009 None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x809 Network ID (Section 3.7) Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
Get_Firmware_Version 0x00A None Write; To Accessory REQUIRED
0x80A Firmware version (Section Indications; From Accessory REQUIRED
Get_Battery_Type 0x00B None Write; To Accessory OPTIONAL
0x80B Battery Type (Section Indications; From Accessory OPTIONAL
Get_Battery_Level 0x00C None Write; To Accessory OPTIONAL
0x80C Battery Level (Section Indications; From Accessory OPTIONAL
RESERVED 0x00D - 0x05F      
RESERVED (Response) 0x80D - 0x85F      

These opcodes SHALL be available when the accessory is in separated state. These opcodes SHALL NOT be available when the accessory is in the near-owner state. When any opcode is not available, the accessory SHALL return the Invalid_command error as the ResponseStatus in Command_Response. If an optional opcode is not available, the accessory SHALL return the Invalid_command error as the ResponseStatus in Command_Response. If any opcode value is commanded that is not supported by the accessory, it SHALL return the Invalid_command error as the ResponseStatus in the Command_Response. See Command Response (Section for details.

Opcodes should be structured as defined below.

Table 5: Accessory Opcode Structure
Bytes Description
0-1 Opcode value
2+ Operand Product data

The Product Data operand represents an 8-byte value that is intended to serve as a unique identifier for the accessory make and model. This value SHALL be determined during the onboarding process (Section 7).

Table 6: Product Data Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Product Data Uint8 8 8 See Product data (Section Manufacturer name

The Manufacturer Name operand contains the name of the company whose brand will appear on the accessory, e.g., ”Acme”.

Table 7: Manufacturer Name Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Manufacturer Name UTF-8 64
Manufacturer name Model name

The Model Name operand contains the manufacturer specific model of the accessory.

Table 8: Model Name Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Model Name UTF-8 64
Model name Accessory category

The Accessory Category operand describes the category the accessory most closely resembles.

Table 9: Accessory Category Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Accessory Category Uint8 8 8 Byte 0: Uint8 value of Accessory Category Value (Section 4)
Byte 1-7: Reserved Protocol implementation version

The Protocol Implementation Version operand contains a value indicating an implementation version of these protocols.

Table 10: Protocol Implementation Version Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Protocol Implementation Version Uint32 1 4 Byte 0 : revision version number
Byte 1 : minor version number
Byte 2-3 : major version number

The Major.Minor.Revision value associated with this document is 1.0.0. The equivalent 4-byte value is 0x00010000. Accessory capabilities

The Accessory Capabilities operand enumerates the various capabilities supported on the accessory as defined in Table 11.

Table 11: Accessory Capabilities Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Accessory Capabilities Uint32 1 4 Bit 0 : Supports play sound (REQUIRED)
Bit 1 : Supports motion detector UT
Bit 2 : Supports identifier lookup by NFC
Bit 3 : Supports identifier lookup by BLE

For example, an accessory supporting play sound, motion detector UT, and identifier look-up over BT will have the value set as 1011 in binary and 11 as Uint32. Network ID

The Network ID operand contains the Network ID for the accessory. This is the same information that's in the BT advertisement header in Table 1.

Table 12: Network ID Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Network ID Uint8 1 1 Network ID Firmware version

The Firmware Version describes the current firmware version running on the accessory. The firmware revision string SHALL use the x[.y[.z]] format where :

  • <x> is the major version number, required.

  • <y> is the minor version number, required if it is non zero or if <z> is present.

  • <z> is the revision version number, required if non zero.

The firmware revision MUST follow these rules:

  • <x> is incremented when there is significant change; for example, 1.0.0, 2.0.0, 3.0.0, and so on.

  • <y> is incremented when minor changes are introduced, such as 1.1.0, 2.1.0, 3.1.0, and so on.

  • <z> is incremented when bug fixes are introduced, such as 1.0.1, 2.0.1, 3.0.1, and so on.

  • Subsequent firmware updates can have a lower <y> version only if <x> is incremented.

  • Subsequent firmware updates can have a lower <z> version only if <x> or <y> is incremented.

Major version MUST not be greater than (2^16 - 1). Minor and revision version MUST not be greater than (2^8 - 1). The value MUST change after every firmware update.

Table 13: Firmware Version Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Firmware version Uint32 1 4 Byte 0 : revision version number
Byte 1 : minor version number
Byte 2:3 : major version number

As an example, a Major.Minor.Revision value of 1.0.0 has an equivalent 4-byte value of 0x00010000. Battery type

The Battery type operand describes the battery type used in the accessory.

Table 14: Battery Type Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Battery Type Uint8 1 1 0 = Powered
1 = Non-rechargeable battery
2 = Rechargeable battery Battery level

The Battery level operand indicates the current battery level.

Table 15: Battery Level Operand
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Battery Level Uint8 1 1 0 = Full
1 = Medium
2 = Low
3 = Critically low

3.12. Non-Owner Finding

Once a user has been notified of an unknown accessory traveling with them, it is REQUIRED they have the means to physically locate the accessory. This is called non-owner finding of the accessory.

3.12.1. Hardware

This is a description of the REQUIRED and RECOMMENDED hardware to be incorporated into the accessory to enable non-owner finding.

3.12.2. Motion detector

The accessory SHOULD include a motion detector that can detect accessory motion reliably (for example, an accelerometer). If the accessory includes an accelerometer, it MUST be configured to detect an orientation change of ±10° along any two axes of the accessory. Implementation

The details in this section apply to those accessories that include a motion detector. Values of the variables referenced are specified in Table 16.

After TSEPARATED_UT_TIMEOUT in separated state, the accessory MUST enable the motion detector to detect any motion within TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE1.

If motion is not detected within the TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE1 period, the accessory MUST stay in this state until it exits separated state.

If motion is detected within the TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE1 the accessory MUST play a sound. After first motion is detected, the movement detection period is decreased to TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE2. The accessory MUST continue to play a sound for every detected motion. The accessory SHALL disable the motion detector for TSEPARATED_UT_BACKOFF under either of the following conditions:

  • Motion has been detected for 20 seconds at TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE2 periods.

  • Ten sounds are played.

If the accessory is still in separated state at the end of TSEPARATED_UT_BACKOFF, the UT behavior MUST restart.

A Bluetooth LE connection from an associated device MUST reset the separated behavior.

Table 16: Motion Detector Time Values
Name Value Description
TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE1 10 seconds Sampling rate when motion detector is enabled in separated state.
TSEPARATED_UT_SAMPLING_RATE2 0.5 seconds Motion detector sampling rate when movement is detected in separated state.
TSEPARATED_UT_BACKOFF 6 hours Period to disable motion detector if accessory is in separated state.
TSEPARATED_UT_TIMEOUT random value between 8-24 hours chosen from a uniform distribution Time span in separated state before enabling motion detector.

3.12.3. Sound maker

The accessory MUST include a sound maker (for example, a speaker) to play sound when in separated state, either periodically or when motion is detected.

It MUST also play sound when a non-owner tries to locate the accessory by initiating a play sound command from a non-owner device when the accessory is in range and connectable through Bluetooth LE. The sound maker MUST emit a sound with minimum 60 Phon peak loudness as defined by ISO 532-1:2017. The loudness MUST be measured in free acoustic space substantially free of obstacles that would affect the pressure measurement. The loudness MUST be measured by a calibrated (to the Pascal) free field microphone 25 cm from the accessory suspended in free space.

3.12.4. Non-owner controls

Non-owner controls SHALL use the same service and characteristic UUIDs as defined in Accessory Connections (Section 3.10).

These controls allow a non-owner to locate the accessory by playing a sound as well as fetch an encrypted payload used to retrieve the identifier of the device.

These opcodes are defined in Table 17.

Table 17: Non-Owner Controls Opcodes
Opcode Opcode value Operands GATT subprocedure
Sound_Start 0x300 None Write; To accessory
Sound_Stop 0x301 None Write; To accessory
Command_Response 0x302 Command Response (Section Indications; From accessory
Sound_Completed 0x303 None Indications; From accessory
Get_Identifier 0x404 None Write; To accessory
Get_Identifier_Response 0x405 Identifier Payload (Section Indications; From accessory
RESERVED 0x304 - 0x35F    
RESERVED (Response) 0x405 - 0x45F    

Sound_Start and Sound_Stop SHALL only be available to the platform when the accessory is in the separated state.

In all other states, the accessory SHALL return the Invalid_command error as the ResponseStatus in Command_Response.

Get_Identifier SHALL only be available when in identifier read state; otherwise, it MUST send Command_Response (Section with the Invalid_command as the ResponseStatus.

The identifier read state is discussed further in Identifier Payload (Section Play sound

The Sound_Start opcode is used to play sound on the sound maker of the accessory. The sound maker MUST play sound for a minimum duration of 5 seconds.

  • The accessory SHALL confirm the start of the play sound procedure by sending a Command_Response (Section with the corresponding CommandOpCode and a ResponseStatus value of Success.

  • Once the play sound action is completed, the accessory sends the Sound_Completed message.

  • The Sound_Stop opcode is used to stop an ongoing sound request.

  • If the sound event is completed or was not initiated by the connected non-owner device, the accessory responds with the Invalid_state ResponseStatus code.

  • If the accessory does not support the play sound procedure, it responds with Invalid_command ResponseStatus code.

  • If a Sound_Start procedure is initiated when another play sound action is in progress, it rejects with Invalid_state error code.

  • The accessory SHALL confirm the completion of the stop sound procedure by sending the Sound_Completed message. Command Response

There are 2 components of the command response operands: CommandOpCode and ResponseStatus. The CommandOpCode operand indicates the procedure that the accessory is responding to and ResponseStatus operand indicates the status of the response. The accessory SHALL respond to any invalid opcode with Command_Response and Invalid_command as the ResponseStatus.

Table 18: Command Response Operands
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
CommandOpCode Uint16 1 2 The control procedure matching this response
ResponseStatus Uint16 1 2 0x0000 Success
0x0001 Invalid_state
0x0002 Invalid_configuration
0x0003 Invalid_length
0x0004 Invalid_param
0xFFFF Invalid_command Identifier Payload

The Get_Identifier opcode is used to retrieve identifier lookup payload over Bluetooth LE. To enable this opcode, the accessory MUST be in the identifier read state. To enter the identifier read state, a user action on the accessory MUST be performed (for example, press and hold a button for 10 seconds). The identifier read state MUST be enabled for 5 minutes once the user action on the accessory is successfully performed. When the accessory is in this mode, it MUST respond with Get_Identifier_Response opcode and Identifier Payload operand.

Table 19: Identifier Payload Over Bluetooth
Operand name Data type Count Total Size (Bytes) Description
Identifier Payload UTF-8 defined by accessory defined by accessory The encrypted identifier, encoded as a hex string.

It is REQUIRED that the encrypted identifier (which in some cases is the product serial number) be non-identifiable.

If the accessory is not in identifier read state, it MUST send Command_Response (Section with the Invalid_command as the ResponseStatus. Further considerations for how these operands should be implemented are discussed in Design of encrypted identifier look-up (Section 8.1.1).

3.12.5. Alternate finding hardware

The accessory SHOULD provide alternate means to help find it, e.g. by vibrating or flashing lights, via a platform-compatible method. Future versions of this document will consider support for haptics and lights.

3.12.7. Future hardware

Future technologies for finding MAY be considered in revisions of this document.

3.13. Disablement

The accessory SHALL have a way to be disabled such that its future locations cannot be seen by its owner. Disablement SHALL be done via some physical action (e.g., button press, gesture, removal of battery, etc.).

3.13.1. Disablement instructions

The accessory manufacturer SHALL provide both a text description of how to disable the accessory as well as a visual depiction (e.g. image, diagram, animation, etc.) that MUST be available when the platform is online and OPTIONALLY when offline. Disablement procedure or instructions CAN change with accessory firmware updates. These are provided as part of the onboarding process (Section 7).

3.14. Identification

The accessory MUST include a way to uniquely identify it - either via a serial number or other privacy-preserving solution. Guidelines for serial numbers only apply if the accessory supports identification via a serial number.

3.14.1. Serial number identification

If a serial number is available, it SHALL be printed and be easily accessible on the accessory. The serial number MUST be unique for each product ID.

3.14.2. Identifier retrieval capability

The identifier payload SHALL be readable either through NFC tap (see Identifier over NFC (Section 3.14.5)) or Bluetooth LE (see Identifier Retrieval over Bluetooth LE (Section 3.14.3) ).

3.14.3. Identifier retrieval over Bluetooth LE

For privacy reasons, accessories that support identifier retrieval for identifiers not included in the advertising packet over Bluetooth LE MUST have a physical mechanism, for example, a button, that SHALL be required to enable the Get_Identifier opcode, as discussed in Identifier Payload (Section

The accessory manufacturer SHALL provide both a text description of how to enable identifier retrieval over Bluetooth LE, as well as a visual depiction (e.g. image, diagram, animation, etc.) that MUST be available when the platform is online and OPTIONALLY when offline. The description and visual depiction CAN change with accessory firmware updates. These are provided as part of the onboarding process (Section 7).

3.14.4. Identifier retrieval from a server

For security reasons, the identifier payload returned from an accessory in the paired state SHALL be encrypted.

3.14.5. Identifier over NFC

For those accessories that support identifier retrieval over NFC, an associated accessory SHALL advertise the encrypted identifier encoded as a hex string. This string SHALL be an argument passed to the URL defined in the Product data registry which SHALL decrypt the identifier payload and return the identifier of the accessory in a form that can be rendered in the platform's HTML view.

The encrypted identifier when in associated state SHALL be an argument passed to this URL and it is REQUIRED that any metadata passed be non-identifiable.

3.15. Owner registry

Verifiable identity information of the owner of an accessory at time of association SHALL be recorded and associated with the identifier of the accessory, e.g., phone number, email address.

3.15.1. Obfuscated owner information

A limited amount of obfuscated owner information from the owner registry SHALL be made available to the platform along with a retrieved identifier. This information SHALL be part of the response of the identifier retrieval from a server which can be rendered in a platform's HTML view.

This MUST include at least one of the following:

  • the last four digits of the owner's telephone number. e.g., (***) ***-5555

  • an email address with the first letter of the username and entity visible, as well as the entire extension. e.g., b********@i*****.com

3.15.2. Persistence

The owner registry SHOULD be stored for a minimum of 25 days after an owner has unassociated an accessory. After the elapsed period, the data SHOULD be deleted.

3.15.3. Availability for law enforcement

Available ownership registry information SHOULD be produced in response to a valid law enforcement request seeking information related to the misuse of location-tracking accessories provided that the request is submitted pursuant to defined procedures for obtaining such information. Network providers SHOULD define their own procedures for submission of valid legal requests from law enforcement.

4. Accessory Category Value

Accessory manufacturer’s MUST pick an accessory category value that closest resembles their physical product. If none of the accessory categories provided in Table 21 match the physical product, Other MUST be chosen.

Table 21: Accessory Category Values
Accessory Category Name Value
Location Tracker 1
Other 128
Luggage 129
Backpack 130
Jacket 131
Coat 132
Shoes 133
Bike 134
Scooter 135
Stroller 136
Wheelchair 137
Boat 138
Helmet 139
Skateboard 140
Skis 141
Snowboard 142
Surfboard 143
Camera 144
Laptop 145
Watch 146
Flash drive 147
Drone 148
Headphones 149
Earphones 150
Inhaler 151
Sunglasses 152
Handbag 153
Wallet 154
Umbrella 155
Water bottle 156
Tools or tool box 157
Keys 158
Smart case 159
Remote 160
Hat 161
Motorbike 162
Consumer electronic device 163
Apparel 164
Transportation device 165
Sports equipment 166
Personal item 167
Reserved for future use 2-127, 168+

5. Firmware Updates

The accessory SHOULD have a mechanism for the manufacturer to provide firmware updates.

5.1. Backwards Compatibility

5.1.1. Existing trackers

Existing trackers should be updated on a best-effort basis to implement the protocols and practices outlined above.

6. Platform Support for Unwanted Tracking

This section details the requirements and recommendations for platforms to be compatible with the accessory protocol behavior described in the document.

6.1. Owned Accessory Identification

Any platform that supports unwanted tracking SHOULD also provide the capability to suppress unwanted tracking alerts caused by an accessory associated with the owner device.

If an unwanted tracking alert occurs for an accessory and the platform does not already have the installed capability to prevent this alert for the owner of the accessory, then the platform SHOULD explain to the user how those capabilities can be acquired.

6.1.1. Implementation

Unwanted tracking SHOULD recognize an accessory associated to that owner device by matching the MAC address advertised as defined in Table 1, or some other part of the payload, against the one(s) expected during that time.

6.1.2. Platform Software Extension

Platforms SHOULD implement the owned accessory identification capability as a software extension to its unwanted tracking detection.

Accessory manufacturers SHALL provide this set of MAC addresses or matching rules to the platform. This set MUST account for the uncertainty involved with the MAC address (Section 3.5).

The Network ID in the advertisement payload, as specified in Table 1, SHALL be used to associate an accessory detected with the manufacturer's software extension.

6.1.3. Network Access

Network access MUST NOT be required in the moment that the platform performs owned accessory recognition.

6.1.4. Removal

The platform MUST delete any local identifying information associated with an accessory if the manufacturer's software is removed or if the platform unassociates from the accessory.

7. Onboarding

Accessory manufacturers MUST follow a minimum set of steps for their accessories to be detectable by platforms such as adding their Network ID value to the Manufacturer network ID Registry (Section 10.1).

During onboarding, a product data registry will be created that includes information such as:

Additional details will follow in 2024 to specify formats for disablement instructions and product images.

7.1. Network providers

Companies that have their own accessory-locating networks will need to create infrastructure to support the scaled retrieval of disablement instructions and product images. Additional information for network providers will be updated in 2024.

8. Security Considerations

8.1. Obfuscated owner information look-up

Obfuscated owner information look-up is required to display important information to users who encounter an unwanted tracking notification. It helps them tie the notification to a specific physical device and recognize the accessory as belonging to a friend or relative. Displaying an identifier (or serial number) may be one method to allow for partial user information look up.

However, the identifier is unique and stable, and the partial user information can further make the accessory identifiable. Therefore, identifier (if used) and obfuscated owner information SHOULD NOT be made directly available to any requesting devices. Instead, several security- and privacy-preserving steps SHOULD be employed.

The obfuscated owner information and identifier look-up SHALL only be available in separated mode for an associated accessory. When requested through any long range wireless interface like Bluetooth, a user action MUST be required for the requesting device to access the obfuscated owner information and identifier. Over NFC, it MAY be acceptable to consider the close proximity as intent for this flow.

To uphold privacy and anti-tracking features like the Bluetooth MAC address randomization, the accessory MUST only provide non-identifiable data to non-owner requesting devices. One approach is for the accessory to provide encrypted and unlinkable information that only the accessory network service can decrypt. With this approach, the server can employ techniques such as rate limiting and anti-fraud to limit access to the identifier. In addition to being encrypted and unlinkable, the encrypted payload provided by the accessory SHOULD be authenticated and protected against replay. The replay protection is to prevent an adversary using a payload captured once to monitor changes to the partial information associated with the accessory, while the authentication prevents an adversary from impersonating any accessory from a single payload.

8.1.1. Design of encrypted identifier look-up

One way to design this encryption is for the accessory to contain a public key for the accessory network server. For every request received by a device nearby, the accessory would use the public key and a public key encryption scheme (ie: RSA-OAEP, ECIES, or HPKE) to encrypt a set of fields including the identifier, a monotonic counter or one time token and a signature covering both the identifier and counter or token. The signature can be either a public key signature or symmetric signature, leveraging a key trusted by the network server which MAY be established at manufacturing time or when the user sets up the accessory. Some additional non-identifiable metadata MAY be sent along with this encrypted payload, allowing the requesting device to determine which accessory network service to connect to for the decryption, and for the service to know which decryption key and protocol version to use.

9. Privacy Considerations

9.1. Obfuscated owner information

In many circumstances when unwanted tracking occurs, the individual being tracked knows the owner of the location-tracker. By allowing the retrieval of an obfuscated email or phone number when in possession of the accessory, as described in Section 3.15.1, this provides the potential victim with some level of information on the owner, while balancing the privacy of accessory owners in the arbitrary situations where they have separated from those accessories.

9.2. Identifier look-up

An identifier both physically on the device, as well as retrievable over NFC or Bluetooth LE, can aid recourse actions in the case of unwanted tracking. While retrieval of the identifier over NFC implies having physical possession of the accessory, the same conclusion can not be made for Bluetooth given its wireless range. The procedure required for identifier look-up over Bluetooth LE intends to strike a balance between the privacy of the owner and ability to empower potential victims, by requiring both the accessory to be in separated state as well as a physical action be performed to enable the identifier retrieval.

9.3. Location-enabled payload

9.3.1. Stable identifiers

Rotating the mac address of the location-enabled payload, as described in Section 3.5, balances the risk of nefarious stable identifier tracking with the need for unwanted tracking detection. If the address were permanently static, then the accessory would become infinitely trackable for the life of its power source. By requiring rotation, this reduces the risk of a malicious actor having the ability to piece together long stretches of longitudinal data on the whereabouts of an accessory.

9.3.2. Proprietary company payload data

Accessory manufacturers SHOULD evaluate the contents of the proprietary company payload data in Table 1 to ensure it does not introduce additional privacy risk through the broadcast of stable identifiers or unencrypted sensitive data.

10. IANA Considerations

Eventually an IANA will create a new registry group called "Unwanted Tracking Protocols (UTP)". This group includes the "Manufacturer Network ID" registry.

10.1. Manufacturer Network ID Registry

New entries are assigned only for values that have received Expert Review, per Section 4.5 of [RFC8126].

An entry in this registry contains the following fields:

  • Manufacturer Name: the name of an organization that is producing a location-tracker accessory

  • Network ID: a 1-byte value specifying the Network ID associated with the Manufacturer Name

10.1.1. Temporary Registry

Until this an IANA registry is available, the values in this registry are listed in Table 22.

Table 22: Manufacturer Registry
Network ID Manufacturer
0x00 Reserved
0x01 Apple Inc.
0x02 Google LLC
0xFF Reserved

11. Normative References

"Bluetooth Core Specification v5.4", , <>.
Bradner, S., "Key words for use in RFCs to Indicate Requirement Levels", BCP 14, RFC 2119, DOI 10.17487/RFC2119, , <>.
Cotton, M., Leiba, B., and T. Narten, "Guidelines for Writing an IANA Considerations Section in RFCs", BCP 26, RFC 8126, DOI 10.17487/RFC8126, , <>.
Leiba, B., "Ambiguity of Uppercase vs Lowercase in RFC 2119 Key Words", BCP 14, RFC 8174, DOI 10.17487/RFC8174, , <>.

Authors' Addresses

Brent Ledvina
Zach Eddinger
Ben Detwiler
Siddika Parlak Polatkan