Apple sued by stalking victims over alleged AirTag tracking

Apple sued by stalking victims over alleged AirTag tracking

Yesterday two women filed a potential lawsuit against Apple alleging that the company ignored security experts’ repeated warnings about how the company’s AirTag devices are being used repeatedly to harass and stalk people. Both were victims of abuse by ex-partners in the past and they argued that Apple’s subsequent safeguards are still inadequate for consumers.

“With a price point of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers,” reads a portion of the lawsuit, as The New York Times reported yesterday.

Apple first debuted AirTags in April 2021. Within the ensuing eight months, at least 150 police reports from just eight precincts reviewed by Motherboard explicitly mentioned abusers utilizing the tracking devices to stalk and harass women. Plaintiffs claim that the abuser of one woman concealed the location devices in her car’s wheelwell. According to the suit, the abuser of the other woman also placed one in the child’s backpack after a contentious divorce. Security experts have since warned that many more similar situations are likely to remain unreported or even not detected ..

[Related: Apple AirTag: 8 common questions answered. ]

At approximately the same size as a quarter or large coat button AirTags are advertised as a cheap and accurate way to track small everyday items like keys, wallets, purses, etc. The lawsuit, published by Ars Technica, cites them as “one of the products that has revolutionized the scope, breadth, and ease of location-based stalking,” arguing that “what separates the AirTag from any competitor product is its unparalleled accuracy, ease of use (it fits seamlessly into Apple’s existing suite of products), and affordability.”

AirTags rely on Bluetooth signals within Apple’s “Find My” network and thus can show owners their device’s approximate location. Despite Apple’s initial claims that AirTags were “stalker-proof,” the company issued a statement in February 2022 relaying that it had “seen reports of bad actors attempting to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes,” and was subsequently working with “various safety groups and law enforcement organizations” to address the abuse.

[Related: Colorado police sued over SWAT raid based on ‘Find My’ app screenshot. ]

Critics and the lawsuit argue that a subsequent series of minor updates–such as text alerts when AirTags are detected nearby and the introduction of a 60-decibel location chime–fail to address the vast majority of victims’ issues. The complaint also notes that Apple’s unspecified, previously promised updates due by the end of the year have yet to materialize.

None of the stopgaps are particularly helpful for Android users, either, who must download a Tracker Detector app and manually search for AirTags nearby. This lawsuit reminds readers that it is unlikely that a person being tracked without their knowledge .

The proposed class action lawsuit seeks unspecified damages to owners of iOS and Android devices that have been tracked using an AirTag or are at high risk of being stalked. Since AirTags’ introduction last year, at least two murders have occurred directly involving using Apple’s surveillance gadget, according to the lawsuit.

Andrew Paul

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