(NEW YORK) — They were designed to help people keep track of their valuables, devices and other products – but some claim that Apple AirTags have been used to track people.
Reports of people using the quarter-size tracking device to allegedly stalk others have arisen since AirTags’s product launch in April 2021 and have led to calls for the tech giant to review its security measures.
“When you’re selling a cheap, ubiquitous tracking device, the product is the problem. It really is a question of are you going to stop selling this before more people get hurt?” Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, told “Nightline.”
When AirTags have been paired to a user’s iOS device, that user can track the location of their own AirTag using their phone. In June 2021, Apple updated their existing security measures so that a user’s phone would more precisely notify them if an unknown AirTag was moving with them, emitting a sound within 24 hours, updated from three days.
There have been reports of people finding someone else’s AirTags in their purses, backpacks, coats and other belongings. In December of 2022, two women filed a class-action lawsuit in California, claiming the product made it easier for them to be stalked and harassed by abusers.
In June 2022, an Indianapolis man was allegedly killed by an ex-girlfriend who police say used an AirTag to track him down. The family of Andre Smith, 26, has called for reform, citing the incident; Marion County police say Smith’s ex-girlfriend, Gaylyn Morris, placed an AirTag in the back of Smith’s car and followed him without his knowledge. Morris has pled not guilty to a murder charge and is awaiting trial.
LaPrecia Sanders, Smith’s mother, told “Nightline,” that after police let them take Smith’s car home, the family’s older son ripped out the seat of the car and found the tracker.
“That night of his murder, the young lady that was in the car with him, she told me and my family that Andre had told her, ‘Somebody’s following us,’ and he kept lookin’ at his phone,” Sanders told “Nightline.” “They were looking around the car, but they just couldn’t find the Apple AirTag.”
Smith’s story is one of many cases of former partners allegedly using the tracker on unsuspecting victims.
Lauren Hughes told “Nightline” that she too found an AirTag in her car after she broke up with a boyfriend.
“Even though my phone told me when it was moving with me, I had no idea how long it had been there. And if he knew the neighborhood I lived in, or was looking at moving to, and that’s the scariest part about it,” she told “Nightline.”
Hughes is one of two named victims in the class action lawsuit that has been filed against Apple in California. The suit claims AirTags have been “the weapon of choice for stalkers and abusers” and charges the tech company with negligence, intrusion-upon-seclusion and product liability.
Apple told “Nightline” it couldn’t comment on the ongoing litigation. Last February it issued a statement that said “incidents of AirTag misuse are rare; however, each instance is one too many.”
“AirTag was designed to help people locate their personal belongings, not to track people or another person’s property, and we condemn in the strongest possible terms any malicious use of our products,” the statement said.
Gillian Wade, one of the attorneys who filed the suit, told “Nightline” that one of her clients found an AirTag placed under the wheel of her car and colored to match the vehicle’s color.
“If you get a notification that an AirTag traveling with you that isn’t yours, it is delayed. So it doesn’t happen immediately,” she told “Nightline.”
Although there are many AirTag users who have said the device has helped them track and recover lost valuables, Cahn and other tech safety watchdogs have reiterated that the device comes with a huge risk.
“To me, the convenience of being able to track your luggage isn’t worth putting other people at risk of potentially being assaulted or stalked,” he said.
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