March 27, 2014
Contact: Kath Cummins
Washington, DC – Stalkers and domestic abusers will face new obstacles to using cell phones and other technology to track and harass their victims, if Congress passes a new location privacy legislation introduced into the Senate today.
The Location Privacy Act of 2014, being introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-Minn), has the support of The National Center for Victims of Crime and a broad coalition of consumer, privacy and other crime victim advocacy organizations.
As well as requiring cell phone and in-car navigation device companies to have customer permission before they collect and disclose location information to third parties, this important legislation makes it illegal to create, sell, or operate a “stalking app” which can be used to track the movement of anyone with a cell or smartphone. These applications are readily available for purchase online and increase exponentially the risk to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The Location Privacy Act contains another important provision for crime victims. Companies who violate the privacy of consumers by selling tracking devices can have the proceeds of their sales seized by law enforcement. These dollars would be placed in a fund for law enforcement training on stalking and stalking victims’ assistance.
“Stalkers use these technologies to track their victims every move so they can continue to control and terrorize them,” said National Center for Victims of Crime’s Executive Director, Mai Fernandez. “Allowing victims to protect their geolocation information is critical to keeping domestic violence and stalking victims safe.”
“Thousands of women are stalked through the use of stalking apps every year. It’s just common sense that they should be illegal. I’m really glad to join with the experts at the National Center for Victims of Crime to ban the making, running and selling of these apps once and for all,” said Senator Franken.
The Department of Justice estimates that over 25,000 people are aware that they are victims of GPS stalking annually. However, the actual number stalked is much higher, because many of the tracking capabilities and applications available for cell phones and smart phones can be used against a victim without their knowledge.
For more information on how geolocation technology is used by stalkers and domestic abusers, please visit the Stalking Resource Center, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime.
Visit Franken's Senate website more information on The Location Privacy Act of 2014.
The National Center for Victims of Crime, established in 1985, is the nation’s leading resource and advocacy organization for crime victims and those who serve them. For more than 25 years, the National Center has led this nation’s struggle to provide crime victims with the rights, protections, and services they need to rebuild their lives.