New Ohio anti-stalking bills that would outlaw placing a GPS tracker on a vehicle without the owner’s consent will reportedly include a loophole for private investigators. Not everyone is happy about the compromise, but PIs say it’s a necessary aspect of such a law.
It’s easy to see why passing such a law is necessary. After all, stalkers, car thieves, and others with malintent have used GPS trackers to see where people go with their vehicle, using that information to exploit weaknesses.
According to a Cleveland.com report, one bill has passed the state senate and the other is in a house committee at the moment. Both were drafted after a woman found an Apple AirTag hidden on her car. She believes an angry ex-boyfriend put it there, although it’s unclear exactly what the intention might have been. It’s hard to imagine the action was for anything legitimate or good.
Like in many states, Ohio law is quite vague about whether attaching a tracking device to someone’s vehicle constitutes stalking. Lawmakers from both parties are working together to pass the legislation, recognizing the issue is nonpartisan and needs to be addressed since tracking technologies are common and cheap these days.
The bill that passed in the senate allows only licensed private investigators to place trackers on vehicles if someone has been accused of a criminal offense, is a fugitive, to locate stolen property, or investigate worker compensation claims.
But the bill that’s currently in committee in the house doesn’t specify how PIs can use GPS trackers. That’s the one the industry prefers and for obvious reasons. They argue the devices cuts down on manhours since tailing someone 24/7 is expensive, something their clients don’t always want to cover.
Critics believe that PIs using GPS trackers or Apple AirTags actually violate citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. Some Ohio lawmakers aren’t convinced private investigators should be able to get around such constitutional rights considering neither can law enforcement.
As the issue of tracking devices gains momentum in other states where the law is vague, these same issues will inevitably be debated. How everything shakes out will be interesting to watch, especially if one day a case involving a PI using a tracking device on someone’s car makes its way through the courts.
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