AirTag anti-stalking class-action lawsuit given the green light

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in AirTag

An attempted class-action lawsuit against Apple is being allowed to proceed, after plaintiffs convinced a judge that there are negligence issues surrounding the AirTags tracker.

AirTag on a keyring.
AirTag on a keyring.



Initially filed in December 2022 and amended in October 2023 following an "explosion of reporting," the lawsuit from dozens of people in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has become a problem for Apple.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that some of the claims in the lawsuit were sufficiently argued enough to proceed. Accusations of negligence and product liability made it through, reports Bloomberg, but other claims were dismissed by the judge.

Three claims remain in the lawsuit, which alleges that the plaintiffs suffered because of "substantial" issues with AirTag's safety features, which came to light when they were stalked. By not sufficiently implementing safeguards, AirTag "became the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers," the complaint states, despite Apple's attempts to improve them post-launch.

Apple's remedies, including notifying people who may be being tracked and beeping when separated from the user for a prolonged period of time, are deemed to be "woefully inadequate" in the complaint. Furthermore, there was an apparent "gross imbalance" between the protections that Apple device users received and those of Android users.

Apple, meanwhile, argued to the court that it had included "industry-first" safety measures as part of the AirTag's design. Apple also insisted that it should not be held responsible for instances where AirTag could be misused.

In his ruling, Judge Chhabria said that, while Apple may well be in the clear as California law didn't require the company to do more to reduce the ability of stalkers to use AirTag, "that determination cannot be made at this early stage."

Most of the claims were "inadequately pled," the judge wrote, but the claims of negligence and product liability did manage to survive. "It's a close question," the judge remarked.



Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 12
    "No good deed goes unpunished". This should never have proceeded.  
    Xeddanoxwilliamlondonjas99watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 12
    XedXed Posts: 2,566member
    What a pathetic lawsuit.
    williamlondonjas99jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 12
    The court system shows it's usual lack of understanding. Apple is just one of so very many tracker producers and most other companies have done nothing to prevent misuse of their product. Some even advertise the fact
    williamlondonStrangeDaysjas99jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 12
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,009member
    Tile had been out there for years with zero anti-stalking features. Then AirTags came on the market - with anti stalking protections - and Tile panicked, and added them to their devices. Soon after, Tile added a feature to their feature that lets their users pinky-promise they won’t use Tile for stalking (or at least won’t get caught), and then they can turn off the anti-stalking protections. 

    And yet, Apple is the company being sued here. Ain’t that something. 
    edited March 17 tyler82fred1williamlondonStrangeDaysjas99jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 12
    clexmanclexman Posts: 209member
    The courts should come to the same conclusion that affects gun manufacturers and websites. Apple is not responsible for how their product is used.
    williamlondonjas99jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 12
    Fred257Fred257 Posts: 237member
    Having no been stalked by a psychopath myself I’m glad this suit is moving forward. For those of you who disagree with this lawsuit moving forward you have never been abused by someone with a personality disorder. So, you have no right to say anything. For those of us who have been stalked and threatened by narcissists and psychopaths we will use the courts to make sure these criminals will not be able to track and abuse us any further. Many victims who are stalked are actually killed by their stalker. Try that on for size
    williamlondonralphieAlex_V
  • Reply 7 of 12
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,213member
    AppleZulu said:
    Tile had been out there for years with zero anti-stalking features. Then AirTags came on the market - with anti stalking protections - and Tile panicked, and added them to their devices. Soon after, Tile added a feature to their feature that lets their users pinky-promise they won’t use Tile for stalking (or at least won’t get caught), and then they can turn off the anti-stalking protections. 

    And yet, Apple is the company being sued here. Ain’t that something. 
    Part of the issue is it did not originally ship with anti-stalking mitigation which followed a year later, and even after that, most Android users were left out of protections unless they were told about Apple's app for Android and having it explained to them, which means relatively few use it. As someone else put it, "this places the onus on a potential stalking victim to proactively download a new app and look for an AirTag, which seems unrealistic." 

    It's a shame it's taking so long for Apple to integrate the cross-platform protection from unwanted-trackers that Google has had ready now for months, waiting on Apple as they promised. And based on this lawsuit, that's a good thing Google has held off. 

    I expect Apple to sit on it until iOS 18 rolls out this fall. 
    edited March 17 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 8 of 12
    omasouomasou Posts: 575member
    How is a suit allowed against Apple's AirTags, which from day one included features in an attempt to avoid stalking.

    Whereas no one has said boo about Tiles which didn't initially include any anti-stalking features for years?
    jas99MacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 12
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,879member
    Fred257 said:
    Having no been stalked by a psychopath myself I’m glad this suit is moving forward. For those of you who disagree with this lawsuit moving forward you have never been abused by someone with a personality disorder. So, you have no right to say anything. For those of us who have been stalked and threatened by narcissists and psychopaths we will use the courts to make sure these criminals will not be able to track and abuse us any further. Many victims who are stalked are actually killed by their stalker. Try that on for size
    Actually we do have the right to say something, so that’s complete nonsense. 

    ATs have anti-stalking features which is more than competitors could and can say. 
    jas99jbdragonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 12
    ralphieralphie Posts: 104member
    ATs have anti-stalking features which is more than competitors could and can say. 
    What anti stalking features? You mean the beeper that can be easily disabled? Of the fact you need a new phone and OS to be notified of nearby tags, and that’s IFF you enable all the locations stuff that apple uses to track you.

    I dare say Apple anti stalking features are woefully inadequate. 

    (1) they could make an Apple that lets me “sweep” for nearby tags at MY convenience not theirs (strangely they only allow this for android). I did a test with a friend of a stray tag tracking me, and it took several days before I was notified.

    (2) disable the speaker, disable the tracking. A simple change apple could easily implement.

    And many other things Apple could do to limit stalking, but choose not to.
    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 11 of 12
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,311member
    Like anything, it can be abused.  But Apple has already done more than enough to almost make airtags worthless.  Because it is warning criminals and anyone else taking your stuff you are trying to track.

    This was never an issue with TILE.  No one complained with all the tracking they did and zero protections at all for YEARS.  Since it's Apple, lawsuit time once again.  Airtags aren't even all that good with tracking.  GPS trackers on the other hand, great for tracking anyone you want.  Been around a long time now.  Where are the lawsuits?

    This lawsuit should be thrown out.  If someone is using an Airtag to stalk you, that is on the stalker.  
    MacProwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 12
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,009member
    gatorguy said:
    AppleZulu said:
    Tile had been out there for years with zero anti-stalking features. Then AirTags came on the market - with anti stalking protections - and Tile panicked, and added them to their devices. Soon after, Tile added a feature to their feature that lets their users pinky-promise they won’t use Tile for stalking (or at least won’t get caught), and then they can turn off the anti-stalking protections. 

    And yet, Apple is the company being sued here. Ain’t that something. 
    Part of the issue is it did not originally ship with anti-stalking mitigation which followed a year later, and even after that, most Android users were left out of protections unless they were told about Apple's app for Android and having it explained to them, which means relatively few use it. As someone else put it, "this places the onus on a potential stalking victim to proactively download a new app and look for an AirTag, which seems unrealistic." 

    It's a shame it's taking so long for Apple to integrate the cross-platform protection from unwanted-trackers that Google has had ready now for months, waiting on Apple as they promised. And based on this lawsuit, that's a good thing Google has held off. 

    I expect Apple to sit on it until iOS 18 rolls out this fall. 
    This is false. AirTags shipped with anti-tracking features on release, and they were up-front and public about the existence of those features. AirTag was always positioned from the start as a device for locating misplaced items rather than for finding stolen items, specifically because they opted to include features to thwart stalking, which makes long-term tracking of stolen items unviable.

    Only a month after release, AirTags were updated to begin chirping 8 to 24 hours after being separated from their owners, as opposed to the original three-day window. They have continued to update and refine their anti-stalking features since then. Again, Tile launched its tracking device in 2013, eight years before Apple, and for that entire time did absolutely nothing to address (or even acknowledge) potential misuse of their devices for stalking people. 

    Apple came out of the gate openly addressing the issue, and has continued to refine those features since. They also have not followed tile in giving users the option of turning off anti-stalking features if they just promise not to misuse them. So this is another example of singling out Apple for (in some people's myopic judgement) not doing enough, when others did nothing, and are now, in effect, doing less than nothing
    edited March 19 MacProwatto_cobra
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