Two women have filed a class action lawsuit against Apple after making the grim discovery that their former partners were using AirTags to track their locations. The suit was preceded by countless cases of women reporting that they, too, were being stalked by their exes via the $29 device, and innumerable warnings from ethical tech and women’s safety advocates.
In the new suit, one named plaintiff, Lauren Hughes, alleged that her ex-boyfriend placed an AirTag in her car tire’s wheel in an effort to learn where she’d moved to avoid him following their breakup. Her ex, she alleged, made efforts to disguise it by coloring it with a sharpie marker and tying it in a plastic bag. He soon began using the device to taunt her—even going so far as to post a photo of a taco truck from her new neighborhood and posting it online alongside a winking emoji and the hashtag “#airt2.0.”
The other plaintiff, identified only as Jane Doe, said her estranged husband had begun tracking her after planting an AirTag in their child’s backpack. Upon discovering it, Doe attempted to disable it. Her ex, she alleged, then purchased another and, once again, put it in their child’s backpack.
As I previously reported, justice is exceptionally difficult to come by for anyone alleging AirTag stalking. As many experts told me, neither the police or Big Tech are particularly adept at navigating the many nuances of keeping people safe in abusive situations. “The issue itself is not just about AirTags,” Erica Olsen, director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)’s Safety Net project, told Jezebel. “Tracking as a tactic of abuse is much broader than AirTags and has been a consistent issue within the domestic violence and stalking world for a long time.”
When AirTags were launched in April 2021, the trillion dollar tech giant lauded the quarter-sized device as ingenious, given its location accuracy and the ubiquity of the iPhone, with which it so easily pairs. For the millions who own an iPhone 11 or newer, a function called Precision Finding in the Find My app allows them to track the AirTag down to the foot, with arrows on the screen quite literally guiding an owner to their device. While advocates sounded the alarm within weeks of its release, Apple—and other companies peddling tiles and tracking devices—did nothing, effectively leaving room for dozens of unsettling reports of stalking to emerge from every corner of the U.S.—from New York to Michigan to California to Ohio.
It wasn’t until Sports Illustrated model Brooks Nader spoke out about discovering an AirTag that had been slipped into her coat pocket without her knowledge—sparking scores of terrifying TikToks and Twitter threads from young girls and women with similar allegations—that Apple issued a statement, promising protective software updates and full cooperation with police on individual cases. “Based on our knowledge and on discussions with law enforcement, incidents of AirTag misuse are rare; however, each instance is one too many,” the release read.
“Ms. Doe continues to fear for her safety—at minimum, her stalker has evidenced a commitment to continuing to use AirTags to track, harass, and threaten her, and continues to use AirTags to find Plaintiff’s location,” the lawsuit details. “[She] seeks to bring this action anonymously due to the real risk that being identified would expose her to increased risk of harassment and/or physical harm.”
The new lawsuit alleges that any of Apple’s supposed safeguards for the device have done little to protect people like the plaintiffs. “While Apple has built safeguards into the AirTag product, they are woefully inadequate, and do little, if anything, to promptly warn individuals if they are being tracked.”