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US Court Rules: Apple Faces AirTag Stalking Lawsuit

Apple Inc. failed to quash a lawsuit accusing its AirTag devices of aiding stalkers in tracking their targets
March 18, 2024

In a significant legal development, Apple Inc. faces a setback in a lawsuit accusing its AirTag devices of facilitating stalking activities. US District Judge Vince Chhabria, presiding in San Francisco, ruled that three plaintiffs in the class-action suit have presented substantial claims for negligence and product liability, while dismissing others.

The lawsuit, brought forth by approximately thirty individuals, contends that Apple was aware of the potential risks associated with AirTags and could be held accountable under California law for misuse of the tracking devices.

Judge Chhabria highlighted the surviving claims, emphasizing the plaintiffs' allegations regarding the substantial safety flaws in AirTag's design contributing to their injuries during stalking incidents.

Despite Apple's assertion that it incorporated innovative safety measures into AirTags, Judge Chhabria emphasized that it's premature to conclude whether the company fulfilled its legal obligations at this stage, thus permitting the three plaintiffs to proceed with their claims.

Apple's response to the ruling was not immediately available.

The lawsuit accuses Apple of negligently releasing AirTag despite warnings from advocacy groups about its potential for misuse in surveillance and stalking scenarios. Priced at $29, the AirTag's affordability has allegedly made it a favored tool for stalkers and abusers, according to the complaint.

While Apple introduced features like alerts for potential tracking via AirTag, the lawsuit argues that these measures are insufficient.

Similar accusations are directed at Tile Inc., which faces allegations that its tracking devices, integrated with Inc.'s Bluetooth network, lack adequate safeguards against stalking.

This ruling signals a legal challenge for Apple amid concerns over the misuse of its products, raising questions about the balance between innovation and user safety.

The case, identified as Hughes v. Apple, Inc., underscores the growing scrutiny surrounding tech companies' responsibility for the potential misuse of their products, particularly in sensitive areas like privacy and personal safety.

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