If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve noticed all the fuss about AirTags and stalking incidents over the past few months. The case is a bit controversial with evidence supporting both sides (you know, on the subject of AirTags stalking), and now AppleInsider reports that Ohio House has introduced a bill specifically targeting AirTags stalking and criminalizing it. Let’s see what this is all about.
Ohio may have a bill targeting AirTags stalking
A bill to criminalize the use of electronic tags to track people without consent has now been submitted to the Ohio House. Yes, this bill is the legislature’s latest effort to address AirTag’s stalking situation.
As you may know, Apple’s item tracker, AirTags, has now acquired a controversial reputation: there are concerns that the tracker is an accessible way for some stalkers to keep track of their potential victims. And this is happening despite the plethora of anti-stalking measures built into AirTags.
Ohio is now striving to make it illegal to use AirTags to stalk someone. The bill we are talking about is bill HB672, which aims to amend Article 2903,211 of the Revised Code. The bill prohibits anyone from “knowingly installing any 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 be introduced? In fact, it was created in part because of a decision by 3News to actively advocate for bipartisan legislation on unwanted monitoring and tracking. The news organization is lobbying lawmakers to work on the issue.
In addition, 3News reported on loopholes in Ohio that could allow such tracking in cases where there have been no previous stalking or domestic violence attempts. And if so, the stalker may not be fined for placing an AirTag in someone’s belongings and tracking the victim.
Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes stated that the case was something she was not aware of, expressing her gratitude for exposing and advocating for victims.
At least 19 states currently have specific laws targeting electronic tagging, according to the report, and Ohio has not been among those so far.
Ohio isn’t the only state to take action recently against potential misuse of AirTags, though. In January we reported: on new legislation proposed in Pennsylvania, again targeting the specific criminalization of stalking using AirTags.
AirTags: Do They Help Stalkers or Prevent Stalking?
As we hinted at the beginning of this story, whether or not AirTags help with the problem is controversial. There are reports that Apple has made stalking or tracking someone with electronic devices easier and cheaper for malicious users.
You may know that AirTags are designed to alert you in the event that an unknown AirTag is traveling with you or your belongings. However, according to a recent report from Motherboard, Apple’s anti-stalking protections don’t always work.
The report notes that AirTags has made stalking easier, as they use the AirTag network that pings nearby Apple devices (and there are many, in case you didn’t know) to track. The report states that while location-based tracking has been around for a long time, Apple has made it cheaper and easier.
On the other hand, there are many cases where AirTags have helped prevent more serious crimes thanks to the built-in anti-stalking mechanisms (such as alerting the victim that they are being tracked so they can respond, turning off the AirTag or the police). † A recent example that plays in AirTags favor is the case where an AirTag helped a man recover $7,000 worth of stolen camera gear. Another example is the case where: a woman was able to track a horizontal mover using an AirTag; another case was a double car theft that was prevented thanks to AirTags.