Sunday, March 18, 2012

New NY Law Makes GPS Stalking a Misdemeanor



It’s all over the news in New York: on Tuesday a new law went into effect that makes stalking via GPS a Class B misdemeanor, which generally means a fine of up to $500 or up to 3 months in jail if you’re convicted. But there’s a catch. In order for the law to apply to you, you would have to first be aware that you were being tracked, and then commuincate to your tracker that their actions were unwelcome.

While I applaud the sentiment of the law—GPS tracking is becoming quite the problem in many cases of domestic abuse in particular—I can’t help but feel like it gives those tracking quite a bit of leeway. How many people in such situations are willing to confront their suspected stalker and ask them to stop? There is a lot of gray area in the law as-is, so it will be interesting to see how the law interpretations develop and whether or not a federal law will follow.

It’s worth noting that the condition of telling the perpetrator to stop isn’t just for GPS laws—most stalking laws (and trespassing laws) in NY at least, require that the victim indicate to the stalker that their actions are unwanted before the law enforcement can get involved. So maybe it’s not as useless as it first sounds. So, while I’m doubtful it will stop GPS stalking, hopefully this will give victims more options once they realize what is going on.

As a side note, this law does allow tracking by parents of minors, law enforcement and cases of patients suffering from dementia or similar diagnoses.

So tell me what you think. Is this law going to help prevent stalking via GPS?

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