Initially designed to locate the material goods of Apple product owners, the AirTag has found itself involved in harassment cases in the United States in recent years and fueled the anger of women who began legal proceedings at the end of 2022, which are still ongoing. against the apple brand.
The coin-sized gadget, priced at $29, is “a super easy way to keep track” of one’s belongings, according to Apple’s website, who recommends attaching it to your keys or even your backpack.
Connected to an application to be downloaded on your smartphone, the AirTag then allows you to follow in real time the geographical position of the goods to which it is attached but also of the humans who transport it, sometimes without their knowledge.
This is the discovery made by Alison Carney, in June 2022. The professional singer recounts crossing the American city of Chicago in an SUV to reach the concert hall where she is expected, when she finds in her bag an AirTag which is not hers and which she says Apple never informed her of, by sending a notification to her Iphone, as it is normally required to do when an accessory of this type goes found nearby.
– Not safe –
When she comes across the gadget, everything makes sense to the young artist. Since the end of a tumultuous love affair, she says she has received incessant calls and many messages from her ex-boyfriend, who even comes knocking on her door in the middle of the night when he does not burst into the restaurant where she dines.
“When we found this AirTag, it became clear that I was not crazy. I knew someone was following me,” the young woman who lives in Washington told AFP.
“I felt violated. I isolated myself. I stopped going out,” she says. “I know that someone has the ability to place a device on my body, my possessions, and track me for the rest of my life. And (these devices) are getting smaller and harder to detect.” , she continued angrily.
The case of Alison Carney is not isolated in the United States. In June, a 26-year-old man was killed by his girlfriend who suspected him of cheating and tracked his location with an AirTag in the state of Indiana, according to court documents.
The latest case dates back to February 5 in Irving, a small town north of Dallas, Texas. Robert Reeves, spokesman for the local police, told AFP that the city police station alone had already handled several cases involving the famous Apple accessory, in which the victim and his follower knew each other. .
The procedure to follow after filing a complaint is to seek from Apple the identity of the owner of the account attached to the AirTag found, using the serial number, said Mr. Reeves.
Information to which Alison Carney has never had access since she has not filed a complaint, for fear of reprisals.
Contacted by AFP, Apple referred to a press release published in February 2022 condemning “with the greatest firmness any malicious use” of its product and assured that updates promised in this statement “have now entered into force”.
– A complaint against Apple –
But it takes more to convince Jane Doe (pseudonym, Editor’s note) and Lauren Hughes who filed a complaint against Apple in California.
The first claims that after divorcing her ex-husband, he twice placed an AirTag in his child’s backpack. The second plaintiff found the object, colored with a marker and wrapped in a plastic bag, in a wheel arch of her car, according to a complaint filed on December 5.
In the court documents, they criticize in particular the efficiency of Apple’s notification system: the alert would not be immediate and only available on devices equipped with version 14.5 or later of the iOS software, which would exclude certain devices from the brand, older.
Along with older branded devices, it’s Android phone owners who worry Albert Cahn, a researcher at Harvard University and executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project.
“Android users can only detect devices if they download an Apple app and then manually scan for AirTags. Does Apple expect Android users to spend their days constantly checking that they are not are not followed?”, he explains to AFP.