Apple must face class action lawsuit over AirTag stalking, judge rules

AirTag Firmware update

Apple’s bid to dismiss a class action lawsuit over AirTag stalking has failed. As reported by Bloomberg, a judge in California on Friday ruled that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit have “made sufficient claims for negligence and product liability.”

“With a price point of just $29 it has become the weapon of choice of stalkers and abusers,” the lawsuit alleges.

In the lawsuit, which was first filed in December 2022, the plaintiffs accuse Apple of “rushing AirTags to market with insufficient safeguards to prohibit their use for stalking purposes.”

“Apple’s design of the AirTag was defective because the product did not—and does not—perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform when used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable way,” the plaintiffs wrote in the initial lawsuit (embedded below).

This week, US District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that the lawsuit can move ahead, despite Apple’s bid to have it dismissed. Bloomberg reports:

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.

Judge Chhabria points out, however, that “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.” At this point, however, the judge said, “that determination cannot be made at this early stage.”

In its motion to dismiss, filed October 2023, Apple said:

Plaintiffs’ lawsuit is a misplaced effort to hold Apple legally responsible for third parties’ intentional misuse of its AirTag product to track Plaintiffs or their family members without their consent. Apple condemns in the strongest possible way any misuse of its products and willingly assists law enforcement in investigations into complaints of unwanted tracking.

Apple was the first Bluetooth-tracking device manufacturer to proactively implement features aimed at mitigating unwanted tracking into its product. By innovating these security features, Apple expected to spur others in the industry to provide comparable safety measures and actively encouraged other manufacturers who used Apple’s Find My network to adopt such measures.

Following the initial release of AirTag in April 2021, Apple added a range of additional anti-stalking features in February 2022. These changes included improved tracking alerts and notifications, updates to how AirTag emits a sound when separated from its owner, and more. Notably, shortly after Apple bolstered its anti-stalking measures for AirTag, Tile announced similar plans of its own.

Initial filing (December 2022)

Apple’s motion to dismiss (October 2023)

Judge’s order (March 2024)

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Title: Apple must face class action lawsuit over AirTag stalking, judge rules
Source: 9to5Mac
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Date: March 17, 2024 at 01:14AM
Feedly Board(s): Technologie