36 plaintiffs have joined two others in an existing lawsuit against Apple that accuses the tech giant of negligence for failing to prevent stalkers from abusing its AirTag tracking product.
The lawsuit, filed last December, alleges that Apple dismissed concerns that its $29 AirTag device could increase stalking, despite the device offering ” unparalleled accuracy, ease of use, and affordability.”
The 36 new plaintiffs come from 20 US states, representing a huge increase in scope for the lawsuit.
Why the AirTag Works So Well
The Apple AirTag launched in April 2021, offering a coin-sized tracking device that Apple hoped would help people easily track luggage, laptops, or other valuables via their iPhone or laptop. It works with a Bluetooth signal that is picked up by any Apple devices in the vicinity (called the “FindMe” network).
And, since Apple is a hugely popular tech company, any reasonably populated area in the country is never more than 100 yards from an Apple device, making the AirTag a very useful tracking device compared to any competitors.
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The lawsuit says that “immediately” after the AirTag's release and ever since, reports “have proliferated” of people being stalked through the use of the device, whether finding it in their purses, cars, or sewn into the lining of their clothes.
The sordid stories get worse than this, however, as AirTags have been connected to victims' deaths as well:
“The consequences have been as severe as possible: multiple murders have occurred in which the murderer used an AirTag to track the victim. Similarly, individuals have been murdered—or murdered others—when using AirTags to track down stolen property and confront the thieves.”
It's undeniably grim news, and while it may be hard to hear, the lawsuit notes that one in three women and one in six men will be stalked at some point in their lifetime.
Can Further Mitigation Features Help?
Apple says it has taken steps to make the AirTag “stalker-proof” — every device has a unique serial number and must be attached to an Apple ID during setup, adding some measure of identification that can be tracked back to a stalker.
Plus, the company will send an alert saying “AirTag Found Moving With You” to any unfamilar iPhones that the AirTag is nearby for an extended period of time.
The lawsuit dismisses these measures as inadequate, pointing out the many stalking incidents that have still taken place. But the real question is how the lawsuit will resolve in court.