The AirTag, Apple’s personal item tracker, has sparked concerns of child safety after an Australian retailer pulled the product from its stores because kids can easily access its battery.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Australian retailer Officeworks has pulled AirTags from sale.
  • Officeworks has more than 160 stores across the country.
  • The device’s removable battery has sparked child safety concerns.
  • Apple’s design lets kids easily remove the AirTag battery cover.

Officeworks pulls AirTags from sale in Australia

Officeworks has confirmed it’s now pulled the AirTags from its shelves until further notice. According to the retailer, the decision was made over child safety concerns. Accessibility of the accessory’s cell battery seems to be at the heart of this issue. To remove the tiny CR2032 battery powering Apple’s personal item tracker, you just press down on the polished stainless steel battery cover, then rotate counterclockwise until the cover stops rotating.

As per user reports on Reddit, some folks were told by an Officeworks representative that the AirTag got removed due to safety concerns over the accessibility of the product’s battery.

An Officeworks representative told Gizmodo:

The Apple Air Tag range will temporarily be unavailable for purchase from Officeworks. The product will not be stocked by Officeworks until further guidance is provided from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Officeworks continues to work with Apple to address any safety concerns.

While the retailer went to great lengths to avoid mentioning the words “children” and “kids” in its written statement to Gizmodo, the Cupertino tech giant had more to share on the matter.

Apple’s comment on AirTag removal

Here’s what Apple wrote in an email to Gizmodo:

AirTag is designed to meet international child safety standards, including those in Australia, by requiring a two step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery. We are following the regulations closely and are working to ensure that our products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required.

Gizmodo Australia reminds us that the government of Australia recently requires that companies put warning symbols on packaging for their button cell battery products.

It’s our understanding that Apple is planning on updating the AirTag product packaging and warnings in Australia to comply with this new Information Standard. The deadline for this isn’t until June 21, 2022. At the time of writing AirTags are still available to purchase from Apple online as well as other retailers such as JB Hi-Fi and Big W.

Therefore, it doesn’t seem like there has been a directive from the ACCC.

What’s the Australian watchdog saying?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACC) has acknowledged that it is aware of child safety concerns with the AirTag cell batteries. “The ACCC is aware of reports raising concerns about the accessibility of button batteries in the Apple AirTag product,” said an ACCC spokesperson. Apple hasn’t said whether it’s in contact with the consumer watchdog.

Button cell batteries pose a major issue in Australia, where three children have died from swallowing these tiny batteries since 2013, prompting the ACCC to respond with a safety campaign spotlighting the issue.