Apple is once again under fire over its AirTags devices, with a class-action suit filed over their use in stalking.
Apple introduced AirTags in April 2021 as a way for individuals to keep track of items. Unfortunately, the devices were quickly used for nefarious purposes, including tagging vehicles for theft and stalking, to name just a couple. Apple announced plans to address the issues in early 2022, but that hasn’t stopped the company from facing a class-action lawsuit.
One of the products that has revolutionized the scope, breadth, and ease of location-based stalking is the Apple AirTag. Introduced in April 2021, this device is roughly the size of a quarter, and its sole purpose is to transmit its location to its owner.
The lawsuit then goes on to describe in damning detail just how AirTag works and why it is such an effective tool for stalkers:
What separates the AirTag from any competitor product is its unparalleled accuracy, ease of use (it fits seamlessly into Apple’s existing suite of products), and affordability. With a price point of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers.
The AirTag works by emitting signals that are detected by Bluetooth sensors on the hundreds of millions of Apple products across the United States. These sensors comprise Apple’s “FindMy” network. When a device on the network detects a signal from the missing device, it reports that missing device’s location back to Apple, which in turn reports it to the owner.
The ubiquity of Apple products, and their constituency in the FindMy network, means that an AirTag can more reliably transmit location data than any competitor. Indeed, in all metropolitan areas, and even many rural areas, one is never more than 100 yards away from an Apple device. Thus, one is never more than 100 yards away from having location data transmitted back to Apple.
The lawsuit goes on to cite two murders wherein AirTags were used to stalk and track the victims.
While Apple’s goal in creating AirTag may have been well-intentioned, the device clearly has flaws that are not being addressed adequately, flaws that have had disastrous consequences.