Two women have filed a lawsuit against Apple in a San Fransisco federal court after alleging they were stalked using AirTags. They claimed that their former partners were using AirTags to keep tabs on their whereabouts. The small tracking device, which Apple launched in April 2021, is meant to be placed in wallets or attached to keys so the user can locate them if lost. The Find My app tracks the lost items through a bluetooth signal.
This is not the the first time someone has alleged the misuse of AirTags. In January 2020, BBC reported that several other women had come forward after finding out that someone was tracking their movements using this device.
Apple went on to clarify that AirTags come with built-in safeguards against unwanted tracking. About 8-24 hours after an AirTag starts moving with an unregistered person, it produces a beeping sound to alert them. However, there are several concerns with this. The beeping is quite soft and can easily go unnoticed. The stalker can also disable the AirTag at will.
Apple has not come forward with any statement regarding the new incidents. In November, the company had another brush with facilitating the invasion of a user’s privacy. Independent researchers at software company Mysk came forward with claims that Apple was tracking user data even when the user categorically opted out of it. iPhone provides users with an option to ask apps not to track their activity across other apps and websites. However, this new research has found that Apple transmits data using its own apps even when tracking is off. App Store, Apple Music, Apple TV, Books and Stocks all collected analytics data regardless of the user’s chosen settings.
The recent changes that Apple has made to App Store ads should raise many #privacy concerns. It seems that the #AppStore app on iOS 14.6 sends every tap you make in the app to Apple.👇This data is sent in one request: (data usage & personalized ads are off)#CyberSecurity pic.twitter.com/1pYqdagi4e
— Mysk 🇨🇦🇩🇪 (@mysk_co) November 3, 2022
Tech giants harvesting user data and facing little to no consequences is concerning, but not new. However, the invasion of one’s physical privacy raises red flags of a whole new kind. Apple may have practically handed stalkers a brand new tool – and AirTags aren’t all that pricey either. If they do not equip their devices with more foolproof safety features, the possibility of more such cases resulting in serious harm is very real, and very scary.