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Apple may face a DOJ antitrust complaint over AirTags

The DOJ seems interested in more than just the App Store.

James D. Morgan via Getty Images

Apple may be facing a potential US Department of Justice antitrust lawsuit — but this time focused on AirTags and its other hardware. Sources told Politico that DOJ lawyers are in the nascent stages of drafting an antitrust complaint against the tech giant. While these sources indicated the DOJ has taken an interest in Apple's hardware, there's no guarantee the agency will follow through with a lawsuit at this time.

The DOJ began investigating the iPhone maker in 2019, as part of a larger government antitrust probe into Big Tech. So far, the agency has primarily focused on Apple’s tight hold of its App Store and payment system for developers. The new potential suit reportedly may go further and hone in on years of public complaints by tracking device maker Tile over Apple’s AirTags.

AirTags use ultra-wideband technology and Apple's Find My network to locate devices, often much more precisely than Tile's early-model Bluetooth-enabled trackers. In testimony before Congress, Tile has alleged that Apple purposely disadvantaged Tile on iOS devices by walling off its Find My network. The tech giant eventually opened its Find My network to third-party devices last year for location tracking, albeit with severe terms and restrictions which would likely result in companies like Tile having to give up their software ecosystems in favor of Apple's. Incidentally, this was a bargain Tile opted not to take. Engadget has reached out to Apple and the DOJ for comment and will update if we hear back.