Apple sued by 2 women who allege they were stalked using AirTags

Apple AirTags are great for protecting valuables, but two U.S. women are now claiming the tracking devices can pose a potential safety risk if used maliciously.

On Monday, Lauren Hughes of Travis County, Texas, and another unnamed woman from Brooklyn, N.Y., filed a proposed class action lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit, which was submitted in San Francisco and obtained by the New York Times, claims AirTags are dangerous when in the hands of stalkers.

Both Hughes and the woman identified only as Jane Doe claim to have been stalked by ex-romantic partners using AirTags. The plaintiffs are seeking unspecified monetary damages.

The two women allege that Apple failed to create and enforce protective measures for the tracking devices, despite warnings from advocacy groups and news reports.

Apple AirTags, which retail for $39, are about the size of a quarter and are intended to track items like keys, electronics and other belongings. Using Bluetooth technology, AirTags notify users of the location and movement of the device.

The lawsuit alleges the device’s reasonable pricing has made AirTags “the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers.”

Apple has yet to make a public comment about the legal claims.

Since the product’s launch in 2021, domestic abuse advocacy groups have warned the technology could be advantageous to stalkers.

Both Hughes and Jane Doe said they fear for their safety after discovering they had been stalked using AirTags.

In the legal filing, Hughes alleges she found an AirTag hidden in the wheel well of her car following the end of a three-month romantic relationship in August 2021. CNN reported the AirTag had been coloured with a sharpie marker and placed in a plastic bag to disguise the tracking device.

Hughes also claimed her stalker had left her threatening voicemails and made abusive posts on her social media accounts.

She eventually moved residences to avoid her stalker, who later allegedly made a social media post of a taco truck in her new neighbourhood with the caption “#airt2.0″ and a winking emoji.

The second, unnamed woman alleges in the court documents that she found an AirTag in her child’s backpack after a “contentious divorce” with her ex-husband. When she disabled the AirTag, she claims another appeared in its place.

“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 reads.

The alleged stalking cases mentioned in the lawsuit are not the only instances of AirTags being used for criminal behaviour.

In June, a woman from Indiana reportedly used an AirTag to track her boyfriend — who she suspected was cheating — and eventually killed him. The Times has also reported that AirTags have been used to track and steal cars in the U.S.

In February, Apple made a statement acknowledging the “bad actors attempting to misuse AirTag for malicious or criminal purposes.”

In response, the company launched an update to the AirTag technology to “alert you of unwanted tracking.” Now, iPhone users will receive an alert on their device when an unknown AirTag is in the immediate vicinity.

The proposed class-action lawsuit argued this update is “woefully inadequate,” partially because it does not apply to Android users, who must download an app in order to be notified of an AirTag in the area. The legal filing claims the alerts “do little, if anything, to promptly warn individuals if they are being tracked.”

Hughes and the unnamed woman wrote in the lawsuit that they are pursuing legal action on behalf of other people “who have been and who are at risk of stalking via this dangerous product.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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