Victims of AirTag harassment not convinced by Apple’s solutions

Originally designed as a solution for the unsuspecting, the AirTag digital tracking sensor is sometimes employed for a more sinister function, and the Apple manufacturer is now the subject of outrage — and a lawsuit — from Americans who have been harassed by it. the. help from the brand’s product.

The $29 silver and white gadget, the size of a large coin, is “an easy way to keep track of your stuff,” Apple’s website says. Customers can attach it to their keys, wallet or backpack.

When connected to a smartphone app, AirTag allows a user to track the real-time geographic location of their belongings in case they’re lost — but the small, accurate transmitter can track the people carrying those items to be tracked, sometimes without their knowledge.

That’s what happened to singer Alison Carney in June 2022, when she found an unknown AirTag in her bag while preparing to go on stage at a concert venue in Chicago.

Carney did not insert the AirTag herself and says she never received an iPhone notification alerting her that an unknown accessory had been found nearby.

– ‘Violated’ –

Although shocking, discovering the AirTag in her bag also helped Carney make sense of some confusing events in her life.

Since the breakup of their turbulent relationship, Carney’s ex-boyfriend has been calling and texting her non-stop, sometimes even knocking on her door in the middle of the night or showing up at restaurants where she was eating.

“It was clear when we got the AirTag that … I was not crazy,” said Carney, who lives in Washington, AFP. “I know someone has tracked (me).”

“I felt defeated. I retreated. I stopped going out,” she said.

“I know that someone has the ability to put a device on my body or my property that I can track for the rest of my life, and they are becoming less and less and less and harder to betray.”

Carney is not the only person in the United States to be tracked against their will with AirTag.

Last June, a 26-year-old man in Indiana was killed by his girlfriend, who tracked his location through AirTag after she suspected he was cheating on her, according to court documents.

Police in the town of Irving, Texas, are also looking into several recent incidents involving Apple AirTags in which the victim and the stalker already knew each other, police spokesman Robert Reeves said.

According to Reeves, the next step after filing a complaint is to identify the owner of the account associated with the AirTag, using the item’s serial number.

But Carney never had a chance to find out who exactly is attached to the rogue AirTag found in her bag — she never filed a police report, just in case.

When asked about the situation, Apple sent a statement to AFP published last year, in which the tech giant condemns “any malicious use of our products in the strongest possible terms.”

The company also said it has updated its systems to warn customers who buy AirTags that they may be committing a crime by using the product to secretly track another person and to alert Apple users when an unknown tracking device notices traveling with them.

– Complaints against Apple –

But that reassurance isn’t enough to convince Lauren Hughes and a woman who goes by the pseudonym Jane Doe, who filed complaints against Apple in California.

Doe says that after the divorce, her ex-husband put an AirTag on their child’s backpack twice.

And in a complaint filed in December, Hughes says she found an AirTag — colored with marker and wrapped in a plastic bag — attached to the wheel well of her car.

In court documents, the two women call out Apple for what they say is an inadequate warning system. AirTag alerts sent out by the company aren’t necessarily immediate, and are only available on iPhones with iOS 14.5 or later.

In addition to older Apple devices, users of Android or other smartphone operating systems are also excluded, according to Albert Cahn, a Technology and Human Rights Fellow at Harvard University.

Apple devices are constantly scanning for unknown accessories nearby, Cahn explained to AFP. But Android users need to download a special app and then specifically search for potentially creepy AirTags.

“Does Apple expect Android users to spend their days constantly checking to make sure they’re not being tracked?” he asked.


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