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HomeTechnologyApple to Face Lawsuit Alleging AirTags Serve as Tools for Stalkers

Apple to Face Lawsuit Alleging AirTags Serve as Tools for Stalkers

Apple Inc. faced a setback as it lost a bid to dismiss a lawsuit accusing its AirTag devices of aiding stalkers in tracking their victims. US District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco ruled on Friday that three plaintiffs in the class-action suit had presented adequate claims for negligence and product liability, although he dismissed the others.

Approximately three dozen individuals who initiated the lawsuit alleged that Apple had been warned about the risks associated with its AirTags and contended that the company could be held legally accountable under California law when the tracking devices are exploited for malicious purposes.

In the surviving three claims, the plaintiffs “assert that, during incidents of stalking, the issues with the AirTag’s safety features were significant and that these safety flaws led to their injuries,” Chhabria stated.

Apple had maintained that it designed the AirTag with “industry-first” safety features and should not be deemed liable when the product is misused.

“While Apple may ultimately be correct in asserting that California law did not mandate additional efforts to reduce the effectiveness of AirTags for stalkers, such a determination cannot be made at this early juncture,” the judge remarked, allowing the three plaintiffs to pursue their claims.

A spokesperson for the company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the ruling.

Apple was accused in the lawsuit of negligently introducing the AirTag despite warnings from advocacy groups and others that the product could be repurposed for surveillance. The complaint alleged, “With a price point of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers.”

Although Apple developed a feature to alert users when an AirTag may be tracking them, the lawsuit argues that this and other safety measures fall short.

Similar allegations have been leveled against Tile Inc., whose tracking devices connected to Inc.’s Bluetooth network purportedly lack adequate safeguards against stalking.

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