The Lead

Pa. Senate committee advances bill to combat AirTag stalking

By: - June 6, 2023 11:56 am
Pennsylvania Capitol Building. May 24, 2022. Harrisburg, Pa. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

Pennsylvania Capitol Building on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. (Photo by Amanda Berg, for the Capital-Star).

A Senate panel advanced legislation creating a new offense for the unauthorized use of electronic tracking devices, hoping to combat Apple AirTag stalking.

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously voted to send a bill authored by Sen. Wayne Langerholc, R-Clearfield, to the full chamber. The proposal prohibits people from installing an electronic tracking device or causing one’s use without consent.

A first offense under the bill warrants a second-degree misdemeanor, and a second violation is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Though the devices are advertised to track common items — keys, wallets, luggage, and purses — others have reported their use in stalking cases.

“What this really kind of grew out of was the now proliferation of Apple AirTags and the low-cost ability for individuals to purchase and then subsequently track individuals,” Langerholc said of the legislation.

The bill does allow exceptions for law enforcement conducting an investigation, parents or legal guardians tracking a minor, the owner of fleet vehicles monitoring their property, and an electronic communications provider disclosing the terms of use and privacy policy in a document made available to customers.

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