Ohio House preparing bill to specifically address AirTag stalking and criminalize it

Ohio House preparing bill to specifically address AirTag stalking and criminalize it
If you haven't been living under a rock, you have noticed all the fuss about AirTags and incidents of stalking that's been going on in recent months. The issue is a bit controversial with evidence supporting both sides (you know, on the topic of stalking with AirTags), and now AppleInsider reports that Ohio House has introduced a bill specifically to target stalking with AirTags and make it a criminal act. Let's explore what this is all about.

Ohio could have a bill targeting stalking via AirTags

A bill that aims to criminalize using electronic tags for tracking people without permission has been now submitted to the Ohio House. Yes, this bill is the latest legislative attempt to address the AirTag stalking situation.

As you may know, Apple's item tracker, AirTags, has now gained some controversial rep: there are concerns that the tracker is an accessible way for some stalkers to keep track of their potential victims. And this happens despite the plethora of anti-stalking measures built into AirTags.

Ohio is now aiming to make it illegal to use AirTags to stalk someone. The bill we are talking about is bill HB672, seeking to amend section 2903.211 of the Revised Code. The bill seeks to prohibit anyone from "knowingly installing a tracking device or application on another person's property without the other person's consent."

This bill is sponsored by Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes (D) and Rep. Tom Patton (R).

But why would such a bill need to be introduced? Actually, it was created in part due to a decision by 3News to actively advocate for bipartisan legislation over unwanted monitoring and tracking. The news organization has been lobbying legislators to work on the matter.

On top of that, 3News reported on loopholes in Ohio law that could potentially enable such tracking in cases where there have not been any prior attempts of stalking or domestic violence. And if that's the case, the stalker might not receive any penalty for inserting an AirTag in someone's belongings and tracking the victim.

Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes stated that the issue was something she was not aware of, and she expressed her gratitude for bringing it to light and advocating for victims.

According to the report, at least 19 states currently have specific laws aimed at electronic tagging, and so far, Ohio wasn't among them.

However, Ohio is not the only state that's recently acted on the matter of potential misuse of AirTags. In January, we reported on new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania, again aiming to specifically make stalking using AirTags a punishable act.

AirTags: do they help stalkers or do they prevent stalking?

As we already hinted at the beginning of this story, the topic of whether or not AirTags are helping with the issue or not is a controversial one. There have been reports indicating that Apple has made stalking or tracking someone with electronic devices easier for malicious users, as well as cheaper.

You may know that AirTags are designed to alert you in the case there is an unknown AirTag traveling with you or your belongings. However, according to a recent report by Motherboard, Apple's anti-stalking protections aren't always working.

The report indicates AirTags have made stalking easier, as they use the AirTag network that pings nearby Apple devices (and they are a lot, in case you didn't know) in order to track. The report states that although location-based tracking existed for a long time, Apple made it cheaper and easier.

On the other hand, there are many cases where AirTags helped prevent more serious crimes thanks to the built-in anti-stalking mechanisms (such as alerting the victim they are being tracked so they can react, disable the AirTag, or call the police). A recent example playing in AirTags' favor is the case where an AirTag helped a man recover $7,000 worth of stolen camera gear. Another one is the case where a woman was able to track a lying mover using an AirTag; another case was a double car theft that was prevented thanks to AirTags.
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