Pennsylvania Takes Step to Criminalize Bluetooth Stalking

On April 30th, Pennsylvania moved closer to joining the states that have criminalized the unauthorized use of Bluetooth devices to monitor individuals.

Legislation was written to ban the use of a tracking device to stalk a person covertly. Pennsylvania’s statutes prohibiting stalking were approved by the state House of Representatives by a vote of 199 to 1. Up to 90 days in prison is possible for the offense, which is considered a third-degree misdemeanor.

It now heads to the Senate, where it will be considered alongside a different measure that would elevate the offense to a second-degree misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of two years in prison.

Remote tracking is already illegal in most states, and more are introducing similar prohibitions. A new law was passed in Kentucky last year, and similar measures are being considered in Ohio and Florida. In Florida, the penalties for employing such a device are being increased.

Apple AirTags have been a hit since their debut in 2021. They allow customers to track the whereabouts of various belongings, including keys, wallets, and bags. However, digital applications on a person’s phone or Bluetooth-controlled gadgets created by different tech companies can covertly follow another person’s whereabouts.

The House measure was passed on Tuesday, a month after a federal court rejected Apple’s request to drop a class-action lawsuit. The case said that Apple has failed to adequately protect its users from stalkers who use AirTag devices to monitor their victims.

The AirTags allow stalkers to track their victim’s whereabouts by connecting to Apple’s vast network of products and sharing the tagged item’s location.

Apple has spoken out against the software’s unauthorized use. The company argued in court that it shouldn’t be deemed financially responsible for the actions of others and that it had implemented strict policies to avoid any kind of exploitation.

Apple and Google released recommendations last year to prevent covert surveillance by tracking gadgets.

An iPhone has options that enable it to identify any unfamiliar AirTags traveling with you. Alternatively, you can use the Apple Tracker Detect app for Android phones to manually look for and identify any unfamiliar AirTags close by.