Apple AirTag debacle shows we need to diversify privacy

Diversifying privacy means more than diversifying product development and privacy teams. We need to broaden the aperture and centre marginalized voices. By Abigail Dubiniecki, Privacy lawyer and consultant.

“Apple’s website states that ‘privacy is a fundamental human right,’ but one of its new products apparently didn’t get the memo.”(1)

Apple has long made privacy a key brand differentiator, with cutting-edge privacy engineering baked into its offering. Yet the PR fallout from privacy risks that surfaced soon after the launch of its AirTags product(2) has exposed a significant privacy blind spot for the tech darling. Designed to track things, AirTags have enabled stalking(3), car theft,(4) and other safety risks. In a decidedly off-brand move, Apple’s AirTags have actually introduced new privacy risks and exacerbated existing social inequalities. What’s more, Apple may have inadvertently normalized and sanitized digital stalking: “It’s not a spy tool marketed as a spy tool, because it’s marketed as an AirTag, and it’s Apple,” observes the CEO of an organization focused on tackling tech-enabled abuse.(5)

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