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Australian regulator says Apple’s AirTag batteries are too easy for kids to access

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It’s also looking at other Bluetooth trackers

An AirTag in an Apple keychain accessory Photo by Vjeran Pavic / The Verge

Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has warned buyers to keep Apple AirTags away from young children, saying it’s too easy to remove a potentially dangerous battery from the tiny location trackers.

An ACCC statement cautions that AirTags’ small lithium button batteries can severely injure children if they leak or become stuck in a child’s throat, nose, or ear. It raises particular concerns about Apple’s design making those batteries too readily accessible.

“The ACCC is concerned that the AirTag’s battery compartment could be accessible to young children, and the button battery removed with ease. In addition, the AirTag battery compartment’s lid does not always secure fully on closing, and a distinctive sound plays when an AirTag’s lid is being closed, suggesting the lid is secure when it may not be.”

As 9to5Mac notes, Australian retailer Officeworks removed AirTags from its shelves last month, citing safety concerns. Apple has since added a new warning label to AirTag packaging, and the ACCC quotes Apple as saying that AirTags are “designed to meet international child safety standards.” The agency states that it’s currently discussing safety issues with Apple.

Many devices — including AirTag competitors — use button batteries. Some companies make them tougher to remove; Tile trackers, for instance, require a paperclip or precision screwdriver to swap a battery. Australia recently introduced new, stricter overall safety rules for devices using button batteries, and Apple isn’t the only company in the ACCC’s sights. Its statement says that it’s “assessing whether there are issues with button battery safety in similar Bluetooth tracking devices,” and companies that don’t meet the new standards will have until June 2022 to comply.