Apple Is Being Sued Over Alleged AirTag Stalking
The lawsuit said that despite Apple's attempts to enhance privacy and security, AirTags are easily used for nefarious purposes.
If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence or intimate partner violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
Two women are suing Apple over what they said were ongoing incidents of stalking and harassment by former romantic partners who used Apple's AirTag product to do so, according to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco-area Northern District of California court on Monday.
The proposed class action accuses the tech giant of releasing a product with safeguards that are "woefully inadequate, and do little, if anything, to promptly warn individuals if they are being tracked," the suit said, per Bloomberg. The plaintiffs are seeking a yet-to-be-named sum.
In the San Francisco lawsuit, a woman said her boyfriend attached an AirTag to the wheel of her car to locate her new home — where she moved to escape his stalking. The other plaintiff said she was in the process of divorcing her husband who would use an AirTag to track her and her child without consent.
Apple's AirTag is billed as a "super easy way to keep track of your stuff," and it's small enough to put in a pants pocket, just about 1.26 inches across. The Find My app tracks where the AirTag is and asks it to play noises. It also uses "Precision Finding," which mimics the colder/hotter game to bring you to the item's exact location.
Although the product was created to track items — the gadgets are recommended by travel agents for luggage — the inexpensive-for-Apple price tag of $29 has made the tiny tracker "the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers," the lawsuit says, per Insider. In June, a woman used an AirTag to track a man and ran him over with her car.
Seemingly in response to these concerns, Apple announced several changes to the AirTag in February after seeing "reports of bad actors," including notifying people with iPhones if they have been close to an AirTag for a while, and reminders that the device is for tracking items (and that stalking is a crime).
The lawsuit explicitly says measures like these don't go far enough. Plus, Android customers who use AirTags (or are worried about being stalked with one) have to download a separate app and manually search to get notifications.
The anonymous plaintiff said she asked a friend to download the Android app to scan for an AirTag, but that because she lives in New York City, there were too many around.
She further said she had found AirTags in her child's backpack multiple times during a "contentious divorce" where the person would begin "harassing her, challenging her about where she went and when particularly when she was with the couple's child," per Insider.
Lauren Hughes, the named plaintiff, said she dated a man for three months who then began stalking and harassing her. She moved to a hotel and to another house to get away from him and both times, and, the suit claims, both times used AirTags to find her.
It also says that the boyfriend posted online about"#airt2.0" on Instagram in her new neighborhood.
Domestic violence and privacy advocates told The Verge in March the difference between older abuse tactics, like a tracker sewn in a teddy bear, or even using a competing product like Tile, is the sheer accuracy of Apple's product, as well as the Apple's prevalence in society and how it markets this specific product.
"It's not a spy tool marketed as a spy tool, because it's marketed as an AirTag, and it's Apple," Adam Dodge told the Verge.
"People sometimes don't think there's anything wrong with it, apparently, and use it to track someone's location because, to them, it's a natural use of the technology," Dodge added to the outlet.
Once a judge certifies this type of suit, it goes from a "proposed class action" to a class action. This one in particular hopes to represent people "who have been and who are at risk of stalking via this dangerous product," Bloomberg added.
It also contends that Apple has acted deceptively to users by talking up the app's anti-stalker technology, per Insider.