By Katabella Roberts
Apple has been sued by two women who claim the company’s AirTag devices were used by their ex-partners to stalk them.
The class action lawsuit (pdf) was filed in federal court in San Francisco on Monday on behalf of the two women, identified as Lauren Hughes and “Jane Doe,” from Texas and New York, respectively.
Plaintiffs state that while Apple has “built safeguards” into its AirTag devices, they are “woefully inadequate, and do little, if anything, to promptly warn individuals if they are being tracked.”
Hughes claims in the lawsuit that she began being stalked by her former partner in late August 2021, following the breakup of a three-month relationship. Hughes alleges that she opted to move residence to avoid her ex but that he later learned where she had moved to after placing an AirTag in the well of the rear passenger tire of her car.
“Terrified that her stalker now knew the location of both her hotel and her new residence, Ms. Hughes took the AirTag to a nearby Apple Store and asked how long the AirTag had been on her car. The employees stated that they could not tell,” the lawsuit states.
She further claims that her ex-partner later posted a photo on social media of a taco truck from her new neighborhood, including hashtags referencing streets in her new neighborhood, and including a winking emoji with the hashtag “#airt2.0.”
‘Weapon of Choice of Stalkers and Abusers’
Plaintiff Doe alleges that the stalking began in the summer of 2022 while she was in the midst of divorcing her husband, with whom she shares a child.
“Ms. Doe was unable to figure out how her former spouse could follow her movements so closely, until one day she found an AirTag in her child’s backpack. She attempted to disable or otherwise render ineffective that AirTag, but another one soon showed up in its place,” the lawsuit states.
“Ms. Doe continues to fear for her safety—at minimum, her stalker has evidenced a commitment to continuing to use AirTags to track, harass, and threaten her, and continues to use AirTags to find Plaintiff’s location,” the lawsuit states.
Apple launched its AirTags in April 2021, and describes the product as “a super easy way to keep track of your stuff.”
The tag, which starts at $29, sends out a “secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network,” according to Apple. “These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud — then you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map. The whole process is anonymous and encrypted to protect your privacy.”
The lawsuit alleges that the device has “become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers.”
AirTags have been linked to a number of murders this year of birth men and women in Ohio, and Indianapolis.
Apple Condemns ‘Malicious Use’ of Products
Amid concerns over the devices being used to track people, Apple has noted on its website that the tags are “designed to discourage unwanted tracking.”
“If someone else’s AirTag finds its way into your stuff, your iPhone will notice it’s traveling with you and send you an alert. After a while, if you still haven’t found it, the AirTag will start playing a sound to let you know it’s there,” Apple states.
The company has also announced a number of changes to the tags this year, including boosted privacy settings, while noting that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products.”
Monday’s lawsuit seeks unspecified statutory damages, actual damages, and punitive damages, as well as injunctive and declaratory relief against Apple.
Plaintiffs also want the court to ensure that Apple corrects its “practice of releasing an unreasonably dangerous product into the stream of commerce, misrepresenting the harms associated therewith, and facilitating the unwanted and unconsented to location tracking of Plaintiffs and Class members.”