Stalking Apps could become subject to criminal and civil penalties

Is somebody tracking you?

POSTED: 07:50 AM PST Dec 14, 2012 
WASHINGTON -

In most cases, it's illegal to stalk a person or keep tabs on them by secretly monitoring their telephone activity. But many people are getting around that - because some companies sell apps that can be installed on someone else's smartphone so you can track them. The software is popular among jealous spouses or lovers - and can also be used by those who stalk for more sinister purposes. But now, some in Congress are trying to close that loophole. The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would make it a crime for companies to make and operate stalking apps. The measure - sponsored by Senator Al Franken of Minnesota - would require those who make the apps to tell those who have it installed on their phones that it is running. The proposal would also extend criminal and civil penalties to the companies that make the stalking apps - as well as to those who actually use the programs on the sly. Such tracking programs take advantage of a mobile phone's ability to give up its location when it sends an email, links to a Web site or launches certain apps.