by Nate Wooley | December 14, 2012 11:15 am
On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would make it illegal to sell software that enables the tracking of individuals.
The legislation against so-called “stalking apps,” introduced by Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), also requires that an app disclose its existence to those being tracked, the Associated Press reports.
While stalking is illegal already, and older technologies are already barred from tracking or disclosing information about users, Internet-based systems are not yet covered by federal law. Currently, mobile devices can communicate via email, web links or apps and disclose a user’s location to suspicious spouses or advertisers and marketers.
Some publicly available apps allow third-parties to record text and voice messages, call logs, website visits and a users location. All these functions are performed without the knowledge of the holder of the phone, or even the knowledge that the app is present at all.
The bill would make the companies that manufacture these apps liable under civil law if they disclose information without the phone holder’s permission. Companies also would be required to have the software disclose, within seven days of installation, the software’s existence on the device.
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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