What you need to know
- A German woman has used an AirTag to root out a "federal authority" that doesn't seem to exist.
- An AirTag was sent to the Federal Telecommunications Service and delivered elsewhere.
- It isn't clear what the Federal Telecommunications Service actually is.
We've already heard stories of Apple's AirTags being used to stalk people and we've even heard about them being used to find stolen property. But now one has been used to out a federal authority that ... isn't. Or maybe it is. Nobody seems to really know.
The story began when activist Lilith Wittmann spotted references to a Federal Telecommunications Service on a website and given the fact that nobody seemed to know what it was, set about trying to figure that out. The result is a lengthy Medium post, spotted by AppleInsider, that goes into way more detail than anyone could have hoped for. But the part we're interested in is the bit where Wittmann posted an AirTag to the Federal Telecommunications Service to see what would happen.
Oh, and the AirTag was placed inside a magazine for the ultimate in spy drama.
As it turned out, it was delivered nowhere near where it should have been and instead landed in a building used by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Cologne. Again, nobody seems to know why. The obvious question is why is mail addressed to a telecoms branch of the government finding its way to one that's designed for the "protection of the constitution" and for what purpose?
Since all this happened the matter has been brought up at government press conferences with the official line being that the "Federal Telecommunications does not exist in the business area of the Federal Government" according to a Wikipedia page. The plot thickens and I'd suggest anyone interested in learning more goes and checks out the original Medium post — especially if your German is up to the task.
At this point there is little doubt that Apple's AirTag is the best iPhone item tracking accessory on the market — just ask the Germans.
Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.
Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.
OK, this year I'm putting an AirTag in my letter to Santa Claus. Hope the elves have iPhones.
Back in the 1970's, I worked for the Federal Reserve Bank. Of course, cell phones didn't exist, and long-distance charges had an impact on budgets. So, to make long-distance calls, we needed to call through the FTS (Federal Telecommunications Service) which had much worse voice quality than the commercial network.
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