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Apple faces class action lawsuit over AirTag prosecution, judge rules

Apple's bid to dismiss the AirTag class action lawsuit has failed. A judge in California ruled Friday that the plaintiffs in the lawsuit “have made sufficient claims of negligence and product liability,” Bloomberg reported.

“At a price of just $29, it has become the weapon of choice for stalkers and criminals,” the lawsuit claims.

In In the lawsuit, which was first filed in December 2022, the plaintiffs accuse Apple of “rushing AirTags to market without sufficient safeguards to prevent their use for harassment.”

“Apple's AirTag design was defective because the product did not—and does not—perform as safely as the average consumer would expect when it was used or misused in an intended or reasonably foreseeable manner,” the plaintiffs wrote in the original lawsuit (attached below).

Best comment from NasDurden

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Similar devices existed long before Apple released AirTag, and none of them offered the type of security and anti-stalking features that Apple released with them. It is the safest product in the entire product category, but no one ever thought it was a problem before Apple entered the market. This should be thrown away.

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U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria ruled this week that the lawsuit can proceed despite Apple's attempt to have it dismissed. Bloomberg reports:

The nearly three dozen women and men who filed the lawsuit argued that Apple was warned about the risks associated with its AirTags and argued that the company may be under California law for allegedly misusing tracking devices.

In the three remaining lawsuits, the plaintiffs “allege that when they were prosecuted, problems with AirTag's security features were significant.” and that these safety defects caused their injuries,” Chhabria wrote.

Judge Chhabria notes, however, that “Apple may ultimately be correct that California law does not require it to take additional steps to limit the ability of stalkers to effectively use AirTags.” However, at this point the judge said “a decision cannot be made at this early stage.”

In its motion to dismiss, filed in October 2023, Apple stated:

Plaintiffs' lawsuit is an improper attempt to bring Apple to legal liability for the willful misuse by third parties of its AirTag product to track plaintiffs or their family members without their consent. Apple strongly condemns any misuse of its products and willingly assists law enforcement authorities in investigating complaints of unwanted tracking.

Apple was the first Bluetooth tracking device manufacturer to actively build features into its product aimed at preventing unwanted tracking. By introducing these security features, Apple hoped to encourage others in the industry to provide similar security measures and actively encouraged other manufacturers who used the Apple Find My network to take such measures.

After initially releasing AirTag in April 2021, Apple added a number of additional anti-stalking features in February 2022. These changes included improved alerts and tracking notifications, updates to how the AirTag makes sound when separated from its owner, and more. Notably, shortly after Apple stepped up its anti-harassment efforts against AirTag, Tile announced similar plans of its own.

Initial filing (December 2022)

Hughes_et_al_v_Apple_Inc__candce-22- 07668__0001 .0Download

Apple Motion to Dismiss (October 2023)

Hughes_et_al_v_Apple_Inc__candce-22-07668__0050.0Download

Judge's Order (March 2024)

Hughes_et_al_v_Apple_Inc__candce-22-07668__0073.0Download

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