California court rules against Apple in a case claiming AirTags are “stalker weapons”


Apple AirTags

Apple faced a major setback in a lawsuit as a California Judge ruled against the company about Apple AirTags being used for stalking. The lawsuit claims that Apple Airtags helps criminals to track victims. Apple tried to request that the lawsuit be dismissed. However, the company was not able to convince the judge and the court ruled against Apple.

Apple Airtags lawsuit

Apple has found itself embroiled in a class-action lawsuit over the safety concerns related to its AirTag tracking devices. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that AirTags have been misused by stalkers, leading to severe consequences, including instances of stalking, harassment, and even murder. The plaintiffs argue that Apple’s AirTags have become a tool of choice for stalkers and abusers, raising significant questions about the safety features and potential risks associated with these tracking devices.

According to Bloomberg, a California judge, Vince Chhabria, ruled on Friday that the three plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit had made sufficient claims for negligence and product liability.

Allegations and Legal Proceedings

The lawsuit was initially filed in December 2022 and amended in October 2023. It gained traction as more individuals joined the legal action, highlighting the widespread concerns regarding the misuse of AirTags. Plaintiffs in the case have accused Apple of negligence and product liability. They claim that the safety features of AirTags were insufficient to prevent stalking incidents. Apple has made several efforts to enhance safety measures post-launch. The company now has new features like emitting sounds when separated from the owner and notifications about unknown trackers. However, the plaintiffs argue that these measures were inadequate in addressing the risks posed by AirTags.

In October, more than 30 victims allegedly terrorized by stalkers using Apple AirTags joined a class-action lawsuit against Apple filed in a California court in December. Court documents show that Apple has until October 27 to respond to the revised complaint. The lawsuit alleges that due to Apple’s negligence, AirTags has become “one of the most dangerous and terrifying technologies used by stalkers”. This is because they can be easily, cost-effectively and covertly used to “determine real-time location information and track victims.”.

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Since the lawsuit was first filed in 2022, the plaintiffs allege “numerous reports” showing AirTags are frequently used for tracking. As of April 2022, international AirTags tracking cases have surged, with US police receiving more than 150 reports. According to the complaint, there have been 19 recent AirTags tracking cases in just one metropolitan area in the United States: Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Apple AirTags

Court Ruling

Following a ruling by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria, Apple was denied its request to dismiss the lawsuit. While the judge acknowledged Apple’s implementation of safety measures and the company’s argument that it should not be held responsible for the misuse of AirTags, he allowed the lawsuit to proceed, stating that a final determination on Apple’s liability cannot be made at this early stage. The Judge wrote

“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,”

Apple’s Response

In response to the lawsuit, Apple has emphasized its commitment to user safety. The company has collaborated with Google to develop industry standards aimed at preventing the misuse of tracking devices. However, the legal battle underscores the complex challenges surrounding the regulation of technology. It also shows that it is the responsibility of companies to safeguard users from potential risks associated with their products.

Read Also:  Apple Removes WhatsApp and Threads from China's App Store

Impact and Ongoing Concerns

The case has raised significant concerns about the potential dangers associated with tracking devices like AirTags. It also reveals the need for robust safety measures to prevent misuse. The plaintiffs have highlighted the real-world consequences of AirTag stalking incidents. This includes cases of violence and murder, underscoring the urgency of addressing these issues to protect individuals from harm.

As the class-action lawsuit against Apple progresses, the outcome of this legal battle will likely have broader implications for the tech industry and the regulation of tracking devices, emphasizing the importance of balancing innovation with user safety and privacy.

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