Like many politicians, Senator Al Franken releases periodic newsletters detailing his current projects. In the newsletter for January, Franken describes his efforts to get legislation passed that would work to prevent cyber-stalking in Minnesota. The bill is called The Location Protection Privacy Act of 2012.
If passed, this new bill would require companies to obtain permission from a customer before collecting, storing and sharing information regarding the customer's location with third parties. It would also make it a crime to intentionally operate a "stalking application," i.e. any application that facilitates stalking. While the government would still be able to access this information under "The Patriot Act," the private information, including customer's exact location at any given time, could not be shared with others. (For more information on The Patriot Act, officially termed "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism", please see the Department of Justice website.
What is most shocking about this legislation is that it ever was legal for cell phone companies to hoard this information and market it for their own profit.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a report regarding this bill, specifically the concerns regarding child predators. http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2012/12/coppa.shtm
So far, Franken's bill has bi-partisan support, as well as the supported by multiple domestic violence prevention groups, and consumer protection groups.
Franken's opening remarks regarding this proposed bill can be seen on the following link.
While stalking has most likely been a problem since the beginning of time, the concept of cyberstalking is a new threat for most of us. According to the FBI, an average of 25% of stalking victims reported that they were also threatened by some form of cyberstalking, including harassing e-mails or instant messaging. About 75% of the victims knew their offender before the crime occurred. For more information on statistics of stalking, see the following sites.
http://www.ncjrs.gov, under NCJ 224527.
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