Apple is facing an expanded class-action lawsuit in San Francisco federal court by more than three dozen victims who were allegedly terrorized by stalkers using Apple AirTags, ArsTechnica reports.
The complaint is against Apple's alleged negligence in allowing AirTags become “one of the most dangerous and frightening technologies used by stalkers” as they can be easily used to determine “real-time location information to track victims.”
The complaint is a corrected version of what was the case brought before a California judge in December 2022 by two women, one of whom claims her ex-boyfriend used an AirTag to track her without her consent. Since then, the plaintiffs claim there has been an “explosion in the number of messages” indicating that AirTags are often used for stalking.
The complaint cites more than 150 police reports in the United States as of April 2022 as evidence of its allegations, as well as a growing number of international stalking cases involving AirTags. The plaintiffs argue that Apple did not do enough to mitigate potential damages, which they claim could include financial ruin and, in extreme cases, murder.
There have been some news about AirTags used for vehicle theft, stalking and other nefarious purposes, prompting Apple to make several updates to how AirTags work to prevent criminals from taking advantage of them.
For example, when setting up an AirTag, Apple displays warnings to prevent malicious use. The warning clearly states that the AirTag is associated with an “Apple ID”, that using it to track people is a crime, and that law enforcement may request identifying information about the AirTag owner, which Apple will readily provide.
In a software update released in April 2022, Apple increased the volume of AirTag audio, which will also help reduce stalking attempts. Apple has also added security features, including precision search, improved display alerts and louder sounds, which are designed to make AirTags more difficult to use for purposes of tracking people. Additionally, Apple has released an app called Tracker Detect, which allows Android users to scan AirTags to make sure they are not nearby.
Despite these updates, the plaintiffs claim that AirTags remain dangerous. For example, one Georgia woman quoted by ArsTechnica reported that she and her daughter were stalked by someone using AirTags for the past two weeks “without knowing by whom or why.” Although she can't find AirTags, she receives daily alerts from Apple and calls from AirTags which confirm that AirTags still there. These calls only signal to the victim that he is constantly being watched. “I am reminded every day that my daughter and I are not safe,” the victim added in the complaint.
The complaint alleges that Apple violated federal and state laws by recklessly releasing a defective product and was unjustly enriched by invading the privacy of those victims who are unwittingly tracked on his devices. The plaintiffs are seeking damages for all persons in the United States who own iOS or Android devices, including classes of users who were targeted and those who were allegedly at risk of harassment.
The complaint also seeks a court order “enjoining Apple from further unlawful, unfair and/or fraudulent conduct in connection with the development, production and marketing of its AirTags.”
Apple is expected to decide whether to dismiss the lawsuit by October 27, the company's deadline to respond to the amended complaint.
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