The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued a warning to parents that Apple AirTags are dangerous toys for children and should be kept away as a safety precaution.
The ACCC said it is concerned that the AirTag's battery compartment could be accessible to young children, and the lithium coin cell button battery removed with ease.
In addition, the watchdog said the AirTag battery compartment lid does not always secure fully on closing, and that the distinctive sound that plays when the lid is being closed suggests the lid is secure when it may not be.
The ACCC said it has raised safety concerns with Apple about the accessibility and security of the button battery inside the product and that "discussions continue".
"We were also concerned that the outer product packaging does not have any warning about the presence and dangers of button batteries, and we note that Apple has now added a warning label to the AirTag's packaging," ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said. "However, this alone does not address our fundamental concerns about children being able to access the button batteries in these devices."
Apple has stated the AirTag is "designed to meet international child safety standards … by requiring a two-step push-and-turn mechanism to access the user-replaceable battery", and that it is "working to ensure that products will meet or exceed new standards, including those for package labelling, well ahead of the timeline required".
"We are continuing to investigate to determine what actions may be required to address our safety concerns," Rickard added.
The ACCC is also in contact with international counterparts on the safety of Apple AirTags, noting at least one overseas public safety regulator is also examining the safety of the Apple product.
"As a safety precaution, we urge parents to keep AirTags away from their children. We know that small children can be fascinated by keys and love playing with them, so there is a risk that they could access this product, which is designed to be attached to a key ring, among other things," Rickard said.
"We are aware several large retailers, including Officeworks, are currently not offering the AirTag for sale because of concerns about button battery safety."
The ACCC is also assessing whether there are issues with button battery safety in similar Bluetooth tracking devices, it said.
From 22 June 2022, mandatory safety and information standards come into force, with fines and penalties potentially on the cards for retailers or manufacturers that supply button batteries, or products containing them, that do not comply with the mandatory standards.
The Consumer Goods (Products Containing Button/Coin Batteries) Safety Standard 2020was introduced in December 2020.
"Currently in Australia, suppliers are guided by an industry code which is voluntary. We urge all manufacturers and suppliers to be ready to comply with the new mandatory standards as soon as possible," Rickard explained.
"Button batteries are dangerous for children, especially for children five years of age and under. If swallowed, a button battery can get stuck in a child's throat and cause a chemical reaction that burns through tissue, causing death or serious injury within a short amount of time," the ACCC added in its warning.