Three dozen plaintiffs join Apple AirTag tracking lawsuit in amended complaint
38 people now accusing Apple of negligence over stalking, assaults and murders enabled by Bluetooth trackers
A lawsuit filed in December that accuses Apple of negligence over its failure to prevent AirTags from being abused by stalkers has been amended to add 36 plaintiffs from 20 US states who claim they were victimized by abuse of the Bluetooth trackers.
Two of the plaintiffs in the amended filing [PDF] now live in Canada and Ireland but their complaints relate to periods they lived in the US.
The allegations are similar to those in the original complaint, which alleged Apple was guilty of negligence by not including appropriate anti-stalking safeguards before bringing AirTags to market, design defects, unjust enrichment and intrusion upon seclusion, along with several violations of California state laws. The original suit only included two plaintiffs, bringing the total number of individuals – not to mention unnamed class members – to 38.
AirTags are roughly the size of a large coin, and use Bluetooth broadcasting technology to connect to nearby Apple devices in order to register their location on Apple's FindMy network. Per the lawsuit, Apple devices have become practically ubiquitous in the United States, making it difficult for those being stalked using an AirTag from escaping their 30-foot reach, even if they themselves don't own an Apple device.
Since the original complaint, "an explosion of reporting [of AirTag stalking cases] has occurred," the amended complaint [PDF], filed last week in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges. "In just one metropolitan area (Tulsa, Oklahoma), police have investigated 19 cases involving AirTags, with many ending in violence."
"Tragically, in multiple instances, AirTag tracking led directly to murder," the complaint said. Along with murder allegations mentioned in the original suit, like the June 2022 murder of an Indianapolis man by his girlfriend, the new complaint unfortunately adds more.
- Lufthansa bans Apple AirTags on checked bags
- Apple, Google propose anti-stalking spec for Bluetooth tracker tags
- What's called Grogu but isn't that cute? Google's leaked answer to Apple AirTags
- Unpatched flaw 'weaponises' Apple AirTags to turn them into the phisherman's friend
Additional murders linked to AirTags since last December include the Chicago murder of a woman by her boyfriend after he figured out that she had removed an AirTag he hid in her car, and two instances of stolen vehicles equipped with AirTags by their owners being tracked to thieves' locations. The thief was shot and killed in one instance, but in the other the 61-year old theft victim was herself murdered.
In other words, the moves Apple has made to make AirTags safer in the past year haven't been enough – or so the plaintiffs are alleging.
The amended complaint, which is nearly 100 pages longer than the original, adds three dozen accounts from victims in the suit, several of whom chose to remain unnamed. In one case, an unnamed victim reported finding an AirTag sewn into the body of a stuffed teddy bear among objects recovered from an ex partner's home. In another, a woman reported being unable to sell her car because it contained multiple undiscovered airtags, which mechanics were unable to locate.
Multiple other plaintiffs report being notified by their phones that unknown AirTags were following them by Apple's anti-stalking features that have reportedly, both in the news and the complaint, been ineffective. Several plaintiffs say they've experienced debilitating stress and anxiety over not being able to find the AirTags tracking them, even when the device's chirp sounds could be heard.
"Other than my friends, do people even believe this is happening? Do they believe me? Do they know how much havoc this has created in my life," one plaintiff asked in the lawsuit.
Stalking victims sue Tile and Amazon for negligence over tracking techREAD MORE
As of April 2022, at least 150 police reports were filed in the US alleging AirTags were used by stalkers to track victims, the lawsuit states, without adding new statistics in the amended complaint. Along with the original dozen charges, the amended complaint added five instances of state law violations in Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania covering consumer protection law violations and unfair trade practices.
Apple didn't respond to questions from The Register for this story.
This case is 3:22-cv-07668, Hughes et al v. Apple, Inc., in the US District Court for the Northern District of California. ®