Lawsuits Filed After Bluetooth Tracking Devices Used For Stalking
Bluetooth tracking devices are an inexpensive way to keep track of your pets. They’re much cheaper than microchips and are marketed to forgetful people who are always misplacing their keys or wallet. However, some unpleasant members of the community are using the devices to stalk former ex’s or current foes which is resulting in lawsuits against the companies that produce these devices.
This is not your typical product liability tort. Usually, there is an allegation that someone was injured when they used the product in an expected way. In this case, you have criminals using a product to commit crimes. Is the company responsible for the criminal use of its products?
To date, two women have begun a class action against one of the manufacturers of Bluetooth tracking devices after the devices were used to stalk them. They are not the only two women who have reported Bluetooth stalking. Complaints against companies that produce these devices are being addressed, but there appears to be no obvious way to prevent the devices from being used to track people and still allow them to track objects.
The plaintiffs accuse the companies of producing inherently dangerous devices without the proper safeguards.
Today, some devices send a sound to your phone when the device is moving with a person. However, complaints that the sound is largely inaudible have remained. Companies say that they will make the sound louder. Today, the set up also explicitly states that it’s a crime to track someone without their permission.
Today, early warning detection systems help users track unknown trackers via the app. However, all of these changes were only announced by one company while it remains unclear that any of the other companies will cooperate.
Why do people buy Bluetooth tracking devices?
You can use it on valuable property, necessary property, or to keep your family safe in an emergency. However, the impulse to buy an airtag for that reason may be less pressing than the obsessive desire to stalk someone. In fact, more of these devices may be purchased for criminal reasons than legitimate ones.
While many major companies will join along to stop stalking, some smaller companies will market their devices to criminals. A company like Samsung cares about its reputation, but a pop-up online shop that sells off-brand tracking devices can dissolve overnight and no one will notice.
Can you hold a manufacturer accountable for third-party criminality?
Gun manufacturers have always faced lawsuits like this. For that reason, they are specially protected under the law. There is a very small window to sue a gun company for the acts of a criminal. You must be able to establish that the gun company marketed their products to criminals or for criminal use. Such lawsuits have been successful.
The plaintiffs may need to make a similar argument that these devices were clandestinely marketed to stalkers. One way to do this would be to establish a link between “is my partner cheating” websites and advertisements for tracking apps and Bluetooth tracking devices. Because I know for a fact that these websites exist, and that they do market stalking apps to suspicious lovers, I believe that the plaintiffs should win this case.
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