Using devices like AirTags to track someone without consent isn’t a crime in Ohio, yet. Photo by WEWS.
A bipartisan bill passed by the Ohio Senate would make it a crime to electronically track someone without their consent. This comes as domestic violence groups are seeing an increase in Airtag stalking.
After Heidi Moon was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2022, an investigator found a tracking device in her car.
Smaller than your palm, an Apple Airtag could be slipped into a purse, behind a license plate or underneath a back bumper — which is what happened to a West Park woman.
“I got the notification that an unknown device was tracking me and that the owner of the device could see my location,” the woman told News 5 back in February of 2022.
There has been an increase in these types of cases and reports, according to Ohio Domestic Violence Network’s Mary O’Doherty.
“We talk about how controlling domestic violence perpetrators are, and this is a really good way to control your victim,” O’Doherty said.
Something troubling for her is that right now, tracking someone like this isn’t a crime.
“We haven’t kept up with technology in terms of the public policy part of it,” Senate Minority Leader Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood) said.
That’s why she and fellow Northeast Ohioan Sen. Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) proposed Senate Bill 100 to close this loophole by updating state stalking laws.
It would make it a crime to put or install an electronic tracking device on someone else’s property without their consent. Failing to remove the tracker after consent has been revoked would also apply.
This would be a first-degree misdemeanor but could be raised to a fourth-degree felony if stalking is a repeated pattern or if there is a history of violence from the perpetrator.
There is also a provision stating that there is a presumption that consent has been revoked in the cases of divorce or in the request or issuing of a protection order.
“I really believe that we can save women’s lives, as well as anybody who would be victimized by stalking,” Antonio said.
There have been no public opponents to this bill, but Antonio did hear concerns from the bail bonds and private investigator community. She made some carve-outs for them.
There are also exceptions for the following: law enforcement; parents or legal guardians of minors; caregivers for elderly adults or adults with disabilities; someone acting on behalf of a business entity; owner or lessee of a motor vehicle; person who has ownership or contractual interest of the property — like a tracker on a company computer that an employee takes home from work; individual who deals with aircraft that may hold people who may not be aware the plane has a tracker and a surety bail bond agent.
Still, both Antonio and O’Doherty think Ohio could be doing more to prevent domestic violence. But they believe this bill is a step in the right direction.
“We think Senate Bill 100 has done a very good job balancing the needs of domestic violence survivors with the needs of everybody else to use technology,” O’Doherty said.
This bill already passed the Senate unanimously and is making its way through the House.
This article was originally published on News5Cleveland.com and is published in the Ohio Capital Journal under a content-sharing agreement. Unlike other OCJ articles, it is not available for free republication by other news outlets as it is owned by WEWS in Cleveland.
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