Two women sued Apple on Monday over the dangers of its AirTag tracking devices in the hands of stalkers, saying the company ignored warnings from advocacy groups and news reports.
The proposed class action lawsuit was filed Monday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California and accuses Apple of failing to introduce effective safeguards that would prevent stalkers from using AirTags to track people. The women said the devices had been used by their former partners to track them.
Apple last year introduced AirTags, which cost $29 and are about the size of a quarter, as a device that can be used to track personal items such as keys and wallets. Other devices pick up their Bluetooth signals; some iPhone users get alerts if a nearby AirTag moves next to them. Advocates for domestic violence survivors warned early on that stalkers could take advantage of stalkers.
“With a price tag of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice for stalkers and abusers,” the lawsuit said.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company made product changes earlier this year after complaints, saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms any misuse of our products.”
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Both plaintiffs in the lawsuit said their former partners used AirTags to stalk them and they continued to fear for their safety.
Court documents said Lauren Hughes, who lives in Travis County, Texas, learned that an AirTag was being used to track her in August 2021 after a three-month relationship broke up. Ms Hughes’ stalker left her threatening voicemails and posted abusive messages on her social media accounts.
Ms Hughes decided to move out after the stalker left items outside her flat. While staying at a hotel during the move, she received a notification on her phone that an unknown AirTag was traveling with her. She found it in the wheel arch of her car. After moving out, her stalker posted a photo online of a taco truck in her new neighborhood and included “#airt2.0” alongside a winking face emoji in the caption, the suit said.
The second plaintiff, who lives in Kings County, New York, chose not to give her name and is referred to as Jane Doe in court documents. She found an AirTag in her child’s backpack this summer after a ‘contentious divorce’, and the lawsuit said her stalker had ‘agreed to continue using the AirTags to follow, harass and threaten her “.
The lawsuit documents concerns raised by domestic violence groups, digital privacy experts, and in news articles immediately after Apple announced the AirTag in April 2021, including a December 2021 article in the New York Times which featured interviews with seven women who believed they had been tracked with AirTags.
In February, Apple announced that it would update the AirTag to make it harder for people to use them to track others without their knowledge. Changes included improving the alert system that lets iPhone users know that an unknown AirTag is nearby.
The lawsuit said the company’s safeguards were “woefully inadequate,” in part because they don’t provide automatic protections for Android users, who must download an app to be notified that an unknown AirTag is coming. found nearby.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for owners of iOS or Android devices that have been tracked with an AirTag or are at risk of being tracked.
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