Lawsuit claims Apple AirTags have 'become the weapon of choice' for stalkers

Lawsuit claims Apple AirTags have ‘become the weapon of choice’ for stalkers

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Two women have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple after claiming their ex used company quartercut Airtag trackers to track them down. The lawsuit, seen by Gizmodo, claims that Apple’s alleged missteps over privacy considerations with AirTags constitute negligence and violate California’s constitutional right to privacy. AirTags, according to the lawsuit, are an “unreasonably dangerous product”, which offers stalkers a tool to track the location of their victims.

One of the women named in the lawsuit claims her ex-boyfriend followed her after hiding the AirTag in the steering wheel of her car. The other claims her ex-husband placed one of the trackers in her child’s backpack and used it to monitor his whereabouts. The first says she felt compelled to move to a hotel following repeated harassment from her ex. One day, while driving from her apartment to the hotel, she says she received a strange notification from her iPhone alerting her that an unknown AirTag was nearby. The woman eventually found the AirTag lodged in the steering wheel of her car, stained with a marker, and tied in a bag. Later, the woman says she spotted a strange man hiding nearby who she says was sent to find and snatch the device.

The first of these women manual accounts are just the latest of a growing number stories of stalkers linked to AirTags, some of which have even ended in murder.

Apple published the devices followed in April 2021 as a direct competitor to the then-popular Tile devices. Trackers, which send out a Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in Apple’s extensive Find My network, are an incredibly useful tool for keeping track of commonly misplaced keys, luggage or other items. Some people even use them to keep an eye on their pets, childrenand even elderly family members, although the ethics around these cases are less clear. However, the same features that make AirTags so useful also make they’re particularly attractive to stalkers, an issue that privacy advocates and researchers warned of before the devices were launched.

Although Apple has released numerous updates over the past year aimed at addressing security and privacy concerns, the complaint accuses Apple of having “recklessly” advanced its device despite a wave of concern from lawyers warning of the potential consequences of harassment. AirTags, Complaint Disputess, have “revolutionized the scope, extent and ease of location-based harassment”. And while there are other competing tracking devices, the complaint claims that AirTags are unique because of their “unmatched” accuracy, ease of use and affordability.

“With a price tag of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice for stalkers and muggers,” the suit reads.

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

In some cases, AirTag-enabled harassment has would have become deadly. Earlier this year, an Indiana woman allegedly used the device to track down his boyfriend at the car. The woman then allegedly cut the man with her car before backing over his body, ultimately crushing him to death. The woman has since been charged with murder.

To its credit, Apple has continually added security features intended to reduce, even slightly, the risk of harassment.eng. Last summer, for example, Apple rolled out a update it will cause AirTags to beep at random time if not near owner’s phone for 8-24 hours. Around the same time, the company also introduced a new Tracker detection app that allows Android users to search for all unwanted devices connected to Find My belonging to another person in a nearby area. More recently, the company released a “Personal Safety Guidewhich the company describes as a resource for “anyone concerned about or experiencing abuse, harassment, or harassment using technology.”

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