The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned buyers to keep Apple's AirTag trackers away from young children, saying it is too easy to remove the potentially dangerous battery from small location trackers.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission statement warns that the AirTag's small lithium batteries can seriously infect children if they leak or become stuck in a child's throat, nose or ears.
The panel raises particular concerns about Apple's design that makes these batteries very easy to access. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is concerned that the AirTag's battery compartment may be within reach of young children, and that the battery is easily removable.
In addition, the AirTag battery compartment cover is not always fully secured when closed, and a distinct sound is played when the AirTag cover is closed, indicating that the cover is tight when it is not.
The warning follows the withdrawal of the Australian supermarket chain Officeworks from the sale of Apple's website tracking devices for the same reason. It is also said that at least one regulator in another country is conducting an AirTag integrity check.
Apple has since added a new warning label to the AirTag packaging. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission quotes Apple as saying: The AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards. The agency said it is currently discussing safety issues with Apple.
AirTag batteries raise concerns
Many devices including AirTag competitors use button batteries. And some companies make it more difficult to remove. Tile trackers, for example, require a paper clip or a precision screwdriver to replace the battery.
Australia recently introduced comprehensive new and stricter safety rules for devices that use button batteries, and Apple is not the only company under scrutiny from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
The AirTag is powered by a CR2032 battery, a common lithium cell button battery used in watches and many small devices. About 20 children a week in Australia are taken to the emergency room after ingesting these batteries. In the past eight years, three of these children have died, and 44 have been seriously injured.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it is assessing whether there are button battery safety issues in similar Bluetooth trackers and that companies that do not meet the new standards have until June 2022 to comply.