Apple sued by two women who were victims of AirTag stalking
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Apple is being sued by two women who were victims of AirTag stalking.
The small tracking devices are designed to help locate valuables via the teach giant's 'Find My' network.
However, ever since the product was released to the public back in April 2021, it's been hit by reports of misuse, such as for stealing cars and domestic stalking.
The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco federal court on Monday (5 December ), alleges that the $29 device has become the 'weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers'.
It also highlights how AirTags have been linked to the murders of women in Akron, Ohio and Indianapolis this year.
"Apple was hit with a digital privacy class action Monday in California Northern District Court accusing the tech giant of facilitating cyberstalking," the suit, called 'Hughes et al v. Apple, Inc', states.
"The suit contends that the Apple AirTag, a product intended to assist users in finding missing Apple devices, allows malicious actors to access the real-time location information of their potential victims."
One of the plaintiffs said that she moved away from her former boyfriend, only to be tracked down after he allegedly placed an AirTag in her car's wheel well.
The other plaintiff, named only as Jane Doe to protect her identity, said her ex-husband had been harassing her about where she was.
She claims he put an AirTag in her child's backpack, and even after attempting to remove it, another one showed up in the same 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 states.
"[She] seeks to bring this action anonymously due to the real risk that being identified would expose her to increased risk of harassment and/or physical harm."
The damages the lawsuit is seeking have not been specified at the time of writing.
UNILAD has contacted Apple for comment.
Earlier this year, Marco Ricciardi from 22 Division Toronto Police explained how to deactivate AirTag devices after a spate of misuse reports.
The copper noted that there's a notification iPhone users will receive, which will alert them with the 'AirTag Found Moving With You' notification.
He continued: "If you get a notification saying that there's an air tag near you, what you can do is that you can use the location service of your phone to pinpoint the proximity of the AirTag and then once you have that AirTag you can disable it.
"If there's one of these on your vehicle I recommend that you call your local police department and the officers will come seize it."
Pointing to the centre of the tiny device, he said: "This little shiny part here and this little plastic part, we could possibly get fingerprints off it and know who's been putting this on your car.
"You can also deactivate it by just twisting it and pulling the battery out.
"The only thing that's in here is a simple watch battery, the battery on these last anywhere from six months up to one year of track-ability."
He also suggested an alternative for those who don't own an Apple device, adding: "So to help other people that are using non-apple phones.
"Apple created an Android version of an app called 'tracker detect' and what it does is, if an Apple AirTag is around you for more than 20 minutes, you can download this app and you can scan the area that you're in to see if one of these has been dropped into your pocket, into your purse, stuck to your car and after that 20 minute period has elapsed, the app will pick up because of the bluetooth frequency that it uses and then you can zone in on the tag and locate it."
Apple responded to the concerns back in February via a statement: "We have been actively working with law enforcement on all AirTag-related requests we’ve received.
"Based on our knowledge and on discussions with law enforcement, incidents of AirTag misuse are rare; however, each instance is one too many."
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please know that you are not alone. You can talk in confidence 24 hours a day to the national domestic violence helpline Refuge on 0808 2000 247