Two women sued Apple Inc. claiming its AirTag devices allow stalkers to easily track and terrorize victims.
The small, inexpensive devices are approximately the same size as a half-dollar coins and can be attached or slipped into personal belongings like keys or backpacks to help owners find them. However, privacy advocates warned that AirTags can be used to track individuals without consent. Police reports also confirm this.
According to the Monday filed class-action complaint in San Francisco federal Court, an ex-boyfriend to one of the women who brought the suit installed an AirTag inside her car’s wheel well. He was able to locate where she had moved to stop him harassing her.
According to the other woman, her estranged husband had placed an AirTag in her child’s backpack so that he could track her movements.
The lawsuit also states that AirTags tracking can have resulted in murder in other cases. An ex-boyfriend used it to track and shoot a woman near Akron, Ohio. A second case saw a woman from Indianapolis, Indiana hide an AirTag in the car of her ex-boyfriend, follow him to a bar, and then run him over.
Apple called the AirTag “stalkerproof” when it introduced the device in April 2021. It also included chimed notification to notify users of Apple devices (iPhones and MacBooks) if an AirTag was in Bluetooth range (about 30 feet, or 9 metres) for an extended time.
Apple upgraded its security measures earlier this year after privacy advocates continued to complain. They also reduced the time to notify and informing Apple device owners when an AirTag not registered to them was “Moving With You.” This includes attaching an AirTag to the undercarriage a car’s vehicle. Apple also released an iOS app for Android that allows them to scan for AirTags.
However, concerns remain about the devices.
Monday’s suit states that Apple has implemented safeguards in the AirTag product. However, they are inadequate and do little to notify individuals immediately if they are being followed.
The women claim that the company negligently released an unsafe device. They are seeking unspecified damages from the court. They want to represent others who have been affected by the dangerous product and are at risk of being stalked.
Apple did not respond immediately to a request for comments.
Hughes v. Apple, Inc., (3:22-cv-7668) U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, San Francisco