Loopholes in the law have permitted the sale of cyberstalking apps for cell phones, but a new bill by the US Senate hopes to put an end to such sales.
Software companies have been utilizing loopholes in the law to sell apps for cyberstalking people via their cell phones. The software has been popularized for being able to keep track of your children and can easily record the movements of a spouse. However, the US Senate Judiciary Committee has just approved a new bill that would make it illegal to intentionally manufacture such an app. Stalking and wiretapping is already illegal, but there exists no law to regulate the manufacture of software which facilitates stalking.
Senator Al Franken, one of the bills supporters
The bill is supported by Senator Al Franken, chairman of the US Senate subcommittee on privacy, technology and the law. He is hoping to further diminish the use of the app by forcing it to reveal it's presence when in use, and hopes to increase the liabilities, both civil and criminal, to include the company which manufactured the app. The bill requires the app to alert the user of it's presence within seven days of being installed, and would require permission by the phone's user to run. If these requirements are not met, the company would be subject to liability charges. The new bill would update antiquated laws which were created years before the introduction of the wireless technologies we today surround ourselves with:
"What's most troubling is this: Our law is not protecting location information," said Franken, explaining that the current laws prohibit revealing location information for landlocked phones, but that wireless location information can be freely extracted and used without the user's permission.
Opponents of the bill stated that asking for the users permission would stifle innovation in an industry that's still developing and growing, something echoed by Senators Charles Grassley and Chuck Schumer. However, both these senators voted on the bill and it passed. Congress may thus soon put an end to cyberstalking, or at least cripple it.