States in the United States are taking note of incidents of harassment involving AirTags and are proposing legislation to penalize such activity.
Several states across the United States are raising awareness of incidents of harassment involving Air beacons and propose to enact laws to sanction these activities. Airtags and similar trackers use Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) connections to help users track and trace their everyday items, such as wallets, keys or backpacks. They are relatively inexpensive in most cases, allowing people to buy lots of them to keep track of everyday items without breaking the bank.
However, for all their apparent benefits, AirTags and other BLE trackers are coming under increasing scrutiny. According to several reports over the past few months, bad actors have used these devices to stalk women and steal vehicles. Harassment with BLE trackers has become a cottage industry, with some online sellers even selling modified “stealth AirTags” with disconnected speakers and disabled warnings. While marketed as a solution to prevent thieves from discovering AirTags hidden in stolen items, they were met with resistance from leading privacy advocates and were eventually delisted.
Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey are three of the first US states to propose concrete legislation to address harassment incidents involving AirTags and BLE trackers. Keystone State was the first to take a step toward banning AirTag harassment in January of this year, when John T. Galloway, a Pennsylvania Democrat, proposed legislation that would make the misuse of AirTags and similar trackers punishable by law. This month, Ohio and New Jersey also took action to punish illegal tracking. from New Jersey Assembly Bill 1549 and Ohio HB 672 both seek to ban the use of electronic devices to track people without their consent, but with some notable exceptions for law enforcement, as well as parents and guardians of minor children.
Proactive Measures Against AirTag Harassment
Harassment, in general, is a crime in all US states, and according to 3News in Ohio, at least 19 states have specific laws against electronic tracking. However, proposed new legislation in Ohio would close loopholes in existing laws and specifically make harassment by AirTags and BLE trackers a punishable crime. According to the report, the proposed bill would prohibit anyone from “knowingly installing a tracking device or application on another person’s property without the other person’s consent.” The two House members sponsoring the bipartisan bill hope it will have the desired effect in curbing AirTag harassment.
The developments in Ohio and New Jersey follow a warning from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who sent out a public safety alert last February asking citizens to be vigilant about trackers that someone one can place on their person, their cars or their property. Meanwhile, it’s not just politicians trying to reign in the illegal use of trackers. Apple has rolled out updates to prevent its trackers from being used for illegal purposes, including a major one last month that will fix unwanted tracking sound to help people locate strangers more easily. Air beacons.
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