Apple Sued Over AirTags Privacy: Everything You Need to Know – CNET

A class-action lawsuit against Apple alleges the tech giant didn’t sufficiently resolve privacy issues raised by its AirTag digital tracking devices, leading to unwanted stalking and abuse.

The lawsuit, which was filed last year and given court approval to proceed earlier this month, says plaintiffs suffered “substantial” injuries from people who abused Apple’s $29 Bluetooth tracker in ways the company didn’t sufficiently work to address.

Apple has defended its work on AirTags since the outset, creating systems the company said were designed to ensure people can identify and disable any unexpected AirTags or other Find My network-equipped sensors that may be near them. When Apple first announced its AirTags at a 2021 event, executives spent extra time on stage discussing privacy-minded features designed to help track items, “not people.” 

But some users of the digital-tracking sensors say otherwise. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit now facing Apple include a woman who found an unwanted AirTag amid a contentious divorce, and a woman who was repeatedly tracked and harassed following the breakup of a three-month relationship.

“As of April 2022, at least 150 police reports were filed describing AirTags being used to stalk victims,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in their initial filing. However, they added, this number captures only incidents that were reported to police and then recorded in a way they could be obtained through FOIA results. The number could be much higher.

A representative for Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Here’s everything you need to know about the AirTags lawsuit against Apple.

Apple expected security concerns

When announcing the AirTag back in 2021, Apple said the tracker had features like unwanted-tag detection and audible alerts that would alert people when an unexpected AirTag was nearby. Apple also said its encrypted Find My communications network, where Apple devices quietly alerted one another to their whereabouts, would help people find their things but couldn’t be tracked by anyone else, “including Apple.”

That was a compelling argument for security concerns, particularly because there are 1 billion active iPhones in the world, creating a large network of people who could anonymously help you find your things.

Shortly after AirTags were released, Apple bolstered its privacy measures by making the AirTag’s “unwanted tag detection” alert occur at random times, so stalkers couldn’t plan around it. And Apple released an Android app, designed to help people detect and disable AirTags nearby them.

Still, The Washington Post reported that despite Apple including stronger privacy features than its competitors, the paper’s testing found that those protections may not be enough to protect unwitting victims.

To track or not to track 

Apple’s AirTags can seem like a blessing and a curse. On one hand, people have used them to find myriad things from bikes to luggage to laptop bags. Some people even put them on their pets and little kids, though Apple doesn’t recommend that.

The larger question we face is whether we’re comfortable with these trackers hanging off all sorts of odds and ends in our lives. Apple hasn’t said how many of them have been sold, though some estimates a year ago put that number at over $1 billion worth of the product.

Read more: Apple AirTags: How To Protect Yourself From Being Tracked

What this means for you

If you want to identify unwanted AirTags, you can use Apple’s Find My app on your iPhone, or its equivalent Android app, to detect if an unexpected AirTag has been traveling with you recently.

However, if you believe your safety is at risk, Apple advises you to contact your local law enforcement agency, which can work with the company. (You might need to provide the AirTag or its serial number.) However, some victims may be unable to do this. Here are some other potential solutions for preventing someone from stalking you with an AirTag.

If you believe you may have been a victim of AirTag stalking and want to follow the case, has a page where you can sign up to receive emails as things progress.

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