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Remote stalking ban clears legislative hurdle

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(The Center Square) – An anti-stalking measure targeting remote monitoring cleared an important legislative hurdle Tuesday.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives OK’d a proposal to ban hidden tracking devices, like Apple AirTags, on vehicles. Violators could face a $2,000 penalty and serve up to one year in prison.

Rep. Lindsay Powell, D-Pittsburgh, said she sponsored the bill to protect victims and “keep them on level ground with people seeking to do them harm.”

“Stalking in any form directly or indirectly impacts far too many residents in our state, country and worldwide,” she said. “Not only that, the consistent advent of new technologies has made life even more perilous for people subjected to this crime.”

Powell said Tuesday the U.S. Department of Justice estimates 7.5 million people across the country are victimized by stalkers, with 80% tracked using technology.

The bill comes more than a year after dozens of victims filed a class-action lawsuit in California against Apple that says the company looked the other way while stalkers used the trackers to pinpoint their locations.

Apple released the devices in 2021 for $29 as a way to find lost items like keys, wallets and luggage. In 2022, the company spoke out against nefarious AirTag uses and promised forthcoming safety updates.

A judge recently struck down the company’s motion to dismiss the legal challenge.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

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