Friday, April 12, 2024

Apple to Face Lawsuit Claiming AirTags Are Weapon of Stalkers, US Court Rules

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Apple Inc. lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that its AirTag devices help stalkers track their victims. US District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco ruled Friday that three plaintiffs in the class-action suit had made sufficient claims for negligence and product liability, though he dismissed the others.

About three dozen women and men who filed the suit alleged that Apple was warned of the risks posed by its AirTags and argued the company could be legally blamed under California law when the tracking devices are used for misconduct.

In the three claims that survived, the plaintiffs “allege that, when they were stalked, the problems with the AirTag’s safety features were substantial, and that those safety defects caused their injuries,” Chhabria wrote.

Apple had argued it designed the AirTag with “industry-first” safety measures and shouldn’t be held responsible when the product is misused.

“Apple may ultimately be right that California law did not require it to do more to diminish the ability of stalkers to use AirTags effectively, but that determination cannot be made at this early stage,” the judge wrote in allowing the three plaintiffs to pursue their claims.

A spokesperson for the company didn’t immediately return an email requesting comment on the ruling.

Apple was accused in the case of negligently releasing the AirTag despite warnings by advocacy groups and others that the product would be re-purposed for surveillance. “With a price point of just $29 it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers,” according to the complaint.

Apple developed a feature that alerts users when an AirTag might be tracking them, but that and other safety measures aren’t enough, according to the suit.

Tile Inc. is facing similar allegations that its tracking devices connected to Amazon.com Inc.’s Bluetooth network lack adequate protections against stalking.

The case is Hughes v. Apple, Inc., 3:22-cv-07668, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

© 2024 Bloomberg LP


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