Lawsuit Claims Apple’s AirTags Have ‘Become the Weapon of Choice’ for Stalkers

Lawsuit Claims Apple’s AirTags Have ‘Become the Weapon of Choice’ for Stalkers

A pair of women have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple after they claim their exes used the company’s quarter-sized AirTag trackers to stalk them. The lawsuit, viewed by Gizmodo, claims Apple’s alleged missteps around privacy considerations with AirTags amounts to negligence and violates California’s constitutional right to privacy. AirTags, according to the suit, are an “unreasonably dangerous product,” that grants stalkers a tool to track their victims’ locations.

One of the women listed in the suit claims her ex-boyfriend followed her after hiding the AirTag in the wheel of her car. The other claims her estranged husband placed one of the trackers in her child’s backpack and used it to monitor her whereabouts. The former says she felt forced to move into a hotel following repeated harassment from her ex. One day, when driving from her apartment to the hotel she says she received a strange notification from her iPhone alerting her that an unknown AirTag was in her vicinity. The woman eventually found the AirTag lodged in the wheel of her car, coloured with a marker and tied up in a bag. Later, the woman says she spotted a strange man lurking nearby who she believes was sent to find and snatch the device.

These womens’ first hand accounts are just the latest in a growing number of stalker stories tied to AirTags, some of which have even reportedly ended in murders.

Apple released the tracking devices in April 2021 as a direct competitor to the then popular Tile devices. The trackers, which send out a bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in Apple’s massive Find My network, are an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of keys, luggage, or other commonly misplaced objects. Some people even use them to keep tabs on their pets, children, and even elderly family members, though the ethics around those cases are less clear. However, the same features that make AirTags so useful also make them particularly attractive for stalkers, an issue privacy advocates and researchers warned about prior to the devices’ launch.

Though Apple has issued numerous updates in the past year aimed at addressing security and privacy concerns, the complaint accuses Apple of “heedlessly” forging ahead with its device despite a groundswell of concerns from advocates warning of potential stalking consequences. AirTags, the complaint contends, have “revolutionised the scope, breadth, and ease of location based stalking.” And while other competing tracking devices exist, the complaint claims AirTags are unique due to their ”unparalleled” accuracy, ease of use, and affordability.

“With a price point of just $US29 ($40), it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers,” the suit reads.

Apple did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.

In some cases, AirTag enabled stalking has reportedly turned deadly. Earlier this year, an Indiana woman allegedly used the device to track down her boyfriend to the car. The woman then allegedly clipped the man with her car before backing up over his body, ultimately crushing him to death. The woman has since been charged with murder.

To its credit, Apple has continually added in safety features intended to, however marginally, reduce the risk of stalking occurring. Last summer, for instance, Apple rolled out an update that would make AirTags beep at a random time if it’s not near the owner’s phone for somewhere between 8 and 24 hours. Around the same time the company also introduced a new Tracker Detect app that lets Android users scan for any unwanted Find My-connected devices belonging to another person in a nearby area. Most recently, the company released a “Personal Safety Guide” which the company describes as a resource for, “anyone who is concerned about or experiencing technology-enabled abuse, stalking, or harassment.”