A class action lawsuit filed in California alleges that Tile, Inc. dismissed stalking concerns about their Tile tracker product—a real time tracking device like Apple’s AirTag—that provides location information for anything their device is left in or attached to.
The lawsuit alleges that Tile marketed the product directly to those looking to use it to track women. According to the complaint, that marketing included advertising on porn websites, websites with information about erectile dysfunction, “and other dubious outlets.”
Tile, which rolled out in 2013, says its products can “make anything findable,” singling out keys, cars, electronics, bikes, luggage, and cats on its landing page.
But the complaint alleges that Tile also was promoting other uses for its product.
“From the moment of the Tile tracker’s release, Tile marketed its product both explicitly and implicitly for the purpose of tracking people—particularly women,” the complaint alleges. According to the lawsuit, when marketing consultants brought this concern to Tile’s management, they mocked the idea and berated a female engineer who pointed out sexist themes in Tile’s advertising, according to a separate 2015 lawsuit filed against Tile by a former employee.
One example of the marketing the lawsuit provides is of a since-deleted YouTube video which shows an actor pulling a tile tracker on a pair of keys tangled up with a bra out of a laundry basket.
The lawsuit references some of the internet chatter about Tile over the years as evidence that Tile should have been aware about the stalking applications for their product.
“Despite having knowledge of the propensity for misuse of the Tile tracker,” the complaint alleged, Tile waited nine years before implementing any type of safety feature on its trackers.”
The complaint cites a Reddit thread from 2019, which it claims is proof that Tile should have been aware of what its product was being used for.
The thread, posted on the r/TwoXChromosomes subreddit, is titled ‘Be Aware: The Tile app can be used to stalk you.”
In the thread, u/rns1980 explains how her sister was stalked by a violent soon-to-be-ex-husband. She explained how her sister had a restraining order against him, but he still managed to find where she was, even when she left her house in the middle of the night.
u/rns1980’s sister alerted the police about the tracking device, but when she contacted Tile to see if they’d donate to any domestic cause, she never heard back from them.
“My ex wife did this to me and several of my friends,” commented u/BaronWaiting. “She kept ‘bumping into’ us with insane frequency. Then all of a sudden, when my car got smashed and I was using a rental, I just stopped seeing her.” When he searched his friend’s car they found a Tile device wedged under his headlight. He also found one in the tear of his laptop bag. “We found a full set of 6 in total,” u/BaronWaiting said. Despite reporting it to the police, nothing was done about it. “There really should be more police action on something like this. It’s not okay and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal,” he said.
Not long after, Tile did introduce safety features, the complaint alleges. But they then introduced another anti-theft policy which allowed that safety feature to be disabled. It wasn’t until 2022, the lawsuit alleges, that an anti-stalking measure was implemented. But, the lawsuit says, the measure was woefully inadequate.
The so-called “Scan and Secure” technology required users to download the Tile app and scan for unknown devices around them, according to the complaint.
“Tile app owner[s] must decide when and where to scan for Tile Trackers—something a person being unknowingly tracked is unlikely to do,” the complaint claimed.
The lawsuit also names Amazon as a defendant in the case. Amazon partnered with Tile in 2021 to integrate the tracker’s bluetooth network with their Amazon Sidewalk mesh network, which Amazon claims covers 90% of the US.
That partnership, the complaint alleged, “makes Tiles more accurate, and therefore more dangerous.”
Amazon didn’t answer questions about whether they were aware of the stalking concerns about the app before partnering with Tile. A spokesperson for Amazon told the Daily Dot that they don’t comment on ongoing litigation.
The two women who filed the complaint claim they were stalked by one of their ex-girlfriends around the end of October. Around Halloween 2016, according to the complaint, the ex broke into the woman’s car and hid a Tile device in the console. After that, the complaint catalogs, the ex began mysteriously showing up where the woman was. Even after moving and not informing her ex where she was living, the ex showed up at the woman’s house. According to the complaint, the ex vandalized the woman’s car and showed up where the woman was when she took trips four hours away from her home.
In March 2017, the Tile device was found, the complaint recounts. The woman contacted Tile over the website’s chat. Tile confirmed the email address associated with the device, which confirmed to the woman that it was her ex who’d placed it there, the complaint alleges.
“The stress of being stalked, and the sense of helplessness that came from the fact that their stalker likely knew their whereabouts at all times, made normalcy impossible,” the complaint alleges.
When the woman decided to press charges against the alleged stalker, the complaint alleged, the Houston police found their requests for information from Tile “were routinely impeded and obstructed.”
When the police tried subpoenaing Tile for location history and personal information provided by the stalker to Tile, the company didn’t comply, saying they couldn’t accept an out-of-state subpoena, according to the complaint. Tile is based in California, but they also provided little information to a subpoena from the San Mateo Police, who the Houston police asked for help, according to the complaint.
Still, the police arrested the alleged stalker and charged her with “illegal installation of a tracking device in July 2018,” the complaint details. According to the complaint, because of a lack of evidence the case was dropped in May, 2019.
In June 2019, the complaint alleges, the woman’s ex sued her and opened herself up to discovery. That process, the complaint says, provided the woman with ample documentation of emails sent to the ex repeatedly showing her location. The complaint says Tile also provided “log data associated with the … [ex’s] Tile Trackers,” which showed after the breakup and until the time the tracker was found, the ex pinged Tile’s server for the location information 16,385 times. The information, the complaint claimed, Tile had “failed—or declined—to provide in the law enforcement subpoena.”
The women are filing a class action suit, the complaint says, because “the conduct complained of herein is systemic,” and they and any potential class members “face substantial risk of the same injury in the future.”
Tile, the lawsuit claims, owed their customers a “duty of care” when they released the Tile tracker into the market. But they breached it, the complaint argues, by releasing it “with insufficient safeguards to prohibit their use for stalking purposes.”
A spokesperson for Life360, Tile’s parent company, which was also named in the lawsuit, didn’t respond to specific questions from the Daily Dot about how their product was advertised.
“Life360 remains committed to the safety and privacy of our users,” they said in a statement provided to the Daily Dot. “Using a Tile to track someone’s location without their knowledge is against our terms of service, and we do not condone the use of our technology in this manner. Collaboration with law enforcement in cases of misuse is a priority, and we actively work to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. We have never received a law enforcement report of misuse of our Anti-Theft Mode, and we are confident our system of deterring bad actors is working as intended.”
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