Apple AirTags help people find their keys. Sadly, they’ve also facilitated a stalking boom. For this reason, just this month, two women filed a class action lawsuit in California against Apple because it has been “unable to protect people from unwanted tracking.”
So, what do you do if you find yourself being stalked via Apple AirTags? Here’s what our experienced New Jersey family lawyers want you to know about stalking and restraining orders and how they can help.
How do Apple AirTags work?
Although Apple AirTags do not have GPS, the technology is similar. Rather than using satellites to determine location, AirTags uses a triangulation network of around 1.8 billion iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and Macs.
AirTag Bluetooth signals anonymously connect to any nearby device in Apple’s Find My network. Its location information is uploaded to the cloud and pinned on a map for easy reference.
These small tracking devices are easily concealed in purses, coat pockets, or cars.
What constitutes stalking?
Stalking is a crime of the fourth degree that involves repeated (e.g., on more than one occasion) conduct, such as
- Repeatedly maintaining physical or visual proximity to a person;
- Following or monitoring a person;
- Interfering with a person’s property; and
- Using any means of communication (including email, texting, and social media) to convey or imply threats.
Some examples of stalking behaviors include:
- Damaging a victim’s car;
- Sending them hundreds of emails each week;
- Calling their phone frequently; and
- showing up at their workplace uninvited.
A person is guilty of stalking if they purposefully or knowingly engage in the course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.
What is a restraining order?
New Jersey courts protect domestic violence victims with protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders.
To quote our previous blog post on domestic violence:
“A restraining order is a legal decree that the defendant is to no longer have contact with the plaintiff, often specifically defining a radius around the plaintiff, into which the defendant cannot enter.”
In other words, a court order tells an abuser to stop the abuse and sets certain conditions preventing them from harassing or abusing you again.
Are you eligible to file for a restraining order in New Jersey?
To be eligible to file for a restraining order in New Jersey, one of the following must be true:
- You and the defendant were in a dating relationship at some point;
- You and the defendant resided together at some point, or
- You and the defendant have a child together.
If any of the above apply, you may file for a temporary restraining order (TRO), which may become final. Currently, restraining orders protect victims of domestic violence cases, which rules out individuals stalked by strangers. Due to this loophole, you will need to file criminal charges.
(New Jersey is currently on the path to passing the bipartisan Assembly Bill 1549, which aims to criminalize remote tracking without consent.)
How to avoid being stalked by AirTags?
- iPhone users:
Rogue AirTags can be detected by all iPhones up to (including) the iPhone 6S if you have iOS 14.5 or newer installed. Make sure your phone’s anti-stalking features are switched on.
Install a third-party app, such as AirGuard, which can automatically detect AirTags and other Bluetooth-enabled trackers.
Note that AirTags start beeping if separated from their paired device for more than 24 hours.
What to do if you find an AirTag?
If you ever find an unknown AirTag on your person, you should deactivate it from the Find My app. Remove the battery to ensure the tag is completely disconnected from the Find My network, and take a picture of the serial code.
Report the incident to the police, who can collaborate with Apple and find the identity of the person who owns the AirTag. Please don’t destroy the AirTag, as it can be used as evidence.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Anyone who uses an Apple AirTag to track you without permission is considered a stalker. Understandably such an invasion of privacy is terrifying, and it’s not always easy to know what to do to stop it.
If you are the victim of stalking, we can advise you of your rights and obtain a criminal order or lay criminal charges. While a restraining order isn’t always enough to keep a stalker at bay, violating it is a crime.
Therefore, the police can arrest the perpetrator even if they lack sufficient evidence to arrest them for stalking. Whatsmore, if criminal charges are brought against a stalker, violations of the restraining order may be used against them.
Stalking, like other kinds of violence, can make you feel powerless. However, the law is here to help. If someone is stalking you contact Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group to protect your rights and safety.
Protect What Matters
Call the office of Stolfe Zeigler New Jersey Family Law Group at 732-240-9555, or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.
We serve the entire state with office locations across New Jersey.