Technology has certainly progressed in leaps and bounds over the last few years, but it’s still by no means completely infallible. And one couple in Atlanta can attest to this fact with firsthand experience, as they’ve been paying for technology’s mistakes over the course of the last year. For some (annoying) reason, the generally well-regarded and useful Find My iPhone app has been sending the owners of missing smartphones straight to the home of Christina Lee and Michael Saba since February 2015, despite the fact that the couple is by no means engaged in some strange iPhone burglary scheme. Really, they’re just victims of tech gone very, very wrong.
Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of this entire saga is that no one has yet specifically identified the cause behind the consistent errors. Over the last year, Lee and Saba have been disturbed over a dozen times (one month, it happened a stunning four times), by iPhone owners and sometimes, the police, demanding that the couple reveal the location of the missing phone. On one particularly dramatic occasion, the authorities came to their doorstep in search of a missing teenager whose phone had been tracked to Lee and Saba’s home. The two ultimately stood outside for over an hour as the police ransacked the residence, looking for both the missing girl and her phone.
Needless to say, that search (as well as all the others), came up empty.
For now, experts’ best guess is that there’s some issue with cell tower triangulation used in the Find My iPhone app. Alternatively, it could be a mistake in Wi-Fi map data that is being used by a number of different carriers. There’s no way to blame any specific company either — phone owners have used a number of carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Boost Mobile. And worse yet, there aren’t any governing bodies or companies responsible for dealing with this sort of issue — not the police, not the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), not the cell companies.
But the couple is hoping that they can do something to rectify the situation, and are planning on filing a complaint with both their local senator and the FCC. “Public pressure is how stuff like this changes,” Saba said. “It sucks that it happens to us, but I hope our experience will lead to it not happening to anyone else.”