Proposed Bill Will Prohibit the Use of Tracking Devices by Private Individuals Without Consent
The rights of Americans have been codified and outlined within the Constitution and in federal and state laws. The fundamental rights of Americans to be free from invasion by the Government and its agents is espoused within the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable search and seizures by the government without probable cause documented and authorized through a warrant.
Increase in the Use Of Spying Technology by Private Individuals
Only in recent years have certain technologies made themselves available to the public for public use, and the right of the private individual to be free from other private individuals is still in the process of being ascertained one case at a time.
Florida’s Proposed Bill to Prohibit Tracking Technology
Florida has begun to make strides by submitting in March 2015 a new bill for approval by the House and Senate of Florida determining the extent to which private individuals may be able to observe and use tracking devices on other private individuals. The proposed bill prohibits the use of tracking applications and devices without consent from the private individual being tracked.
Tracking applications are software programs that can be installed onto electronic devices to determine the location and/or movement of the person in possession of the electronic device. The tracking device itself is an electronic device that shows the location and/or movement through the transmission of electronic signals.
How Can The Tracking Technology Be Used?
The proposed rule imagines that tracking applications or tracking devices are the type that can be installed to a private person’s phone, on their person, or on the person’s motor vehicle (whether they own the vehicle or just rent or lease the vehicle for a temporary period of time). The proposed rule imagines that any installation of a tracking application or device has been installed pursuant to the tracked person’s consent. That is the lawful use of a tracking application or device.
Scope of the Proposed Law
There are many limitations on the proposed rule, which help to clarify certain situations either where consent does not apply or where consent is impossible to receive.
- First and foremost, the law enforcement agency, in congruence with the Fourth Amendment, can only use a device or application pursuant to a court order or a warrant.
- Parents of a minor child do not need the consent of the minor child to put a tracking device or application to monitor the whereabouts of their child, especially when the child is using the family car. However, if the parents of the minor are divorced, separated, or for other reasons living apart, then the consent of both parents needs to be provided, unless sole custody has been given to one parent.
Situations Where Consent Has Been Presumed Revoked
Conversely, there are situations imagined within the bill dictating that the tracked person’s consent has been presumed to be revoked. Here, the tracked person may have initially given consent to the tracker, but the tracked person may have filed a petition for dissolution of marriage or restraining order against the tracker, for example.
The Implications of the New Law
The new bill, if passed in both House and Senate, will reinforce the pro-privacy tenets of the law. Privacy of others is of the utmost importance and should be protected. The effect of this would be to ensure that private individuals, such as stalkers or domestic violence perpetrators, would be unable to use tracking applications or devices to violate the privacy rights of targeted victims.
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