Florida will become the first state to make device stalking a felony.
Republican lawmakers proposed a new bill that would impose up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine on offenders caught using tracking systems like Apple’s AirTags and spyware to follow victims without their consent.
Device stalking is currently a second-degree misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to 60 days in jail, six months of probation and a $500 fine.
The Florida Judiciary Committee approved the bill Monday in a 9-0 vote, but it still needs to go through the Senate Rules Committee before reaching the House and Senate.
If passed, Gov. Ron DeSantis could sign it into law on October 1.
A Florida bill will make device tracking without consent a third-degree felony, with perpetrators facing up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
The bill was proposed by Rep. Tobin Overdorf and Sen. John Martin, who were urged by police departments to introduce the legislation.
He added that the increasing availability of trackers means the technology “could go completely undetected unless you are trained or trained to find those tracking devices.”
The bill provides that there are exceptions that allow certain people to track others without their consent, including law enforcement, the parent or legal guardian of a minor, the caregiver of an elderly or disabled person, and the owner or renter of a Motor vehicle.
“Some applications have legitimate uses,” the Florida Senate wrote in a analysis of the invoice.
However, he added that “other apps are developed and marketed as surveillance apps, typically aimed at potential customers interested in using technology to track another person’s movements and communications without consent.”
According to the analysis, four types of technology allow people to be tracked, including satellite global position systems, Wi-Fi positioning, Bluetooth low energy and ultra-wideband technology.
Stalking remains a serious problem, especially for those who are victims of domestic violence, and stalking leads to harmful behavior and, in some cases, death.
Apple added a feature to its AirTag devices to alert people if they are being tracked unknowingly
In 2022, a woman used an Apple AirTag to track her boyfriend to a bar where she brutally murdered him by running over him with her car.
A Texas man was arrested in December of last year for placing a tracking device in the trunk and lining of his ex-wife’s vehicle.
And over the summer, a man shot and killed his girlfriend for taking the Apple AirTag he placed in her car without her knowledge.
Richard Ansara, a South Florida-based criminal defense attorney who represents people accused of domestic violence, told Techxplore: “People do desperate things in relationships, specifically when trying to determine if infidelity is occurring.”
‘Some may decide to leave an AirTag in the vehicle or on their spouse’s clothing to try to get to the bottom of what is happening in their relationships. Is this behavior correct? No.’
Apple released an update to its AirTag device to let people know if they are being tracked without their consent and “to discourage people from trying to track you without your knowledge,” the company said in its place.
TO class action lawsuit The lawsuit filed against the company last year claimed that Apple is not doing enough to protect people from unwanted tracking, saying that people are falling victim to stalkers and potential killers who use AirTags.
“I think a little more information needs to be disseminated to the potential buyer so that they understand that there is potentially criminal or civil liability that exposes them if, in fact, it is misused,” said attorney Stuart. Kaplan said CBS12 News.
A 2022 report The US Department of Justice estimated that 7.5 million people are harassed each year, “yet the crime is rarely charged or prosecuted.”
Dailymail.com has reached out to Rep. Overdorf and Senator Martin for comment.