Criminal GPS tracking would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
I totally agree on the concept of this bill, to protect people from people preying on others, stalkers, estranged partners, people using GPS to commit crimes. I’m haven’t read the bill myself but I understand it aims to support legitimate and necessary uses such as tracking people with disabilities, for their own good, whether that be a child with autism or a senior person with dementia who may become disoriented and get lost.
The real problem an risk, which I hope they have covered is when is permission granted and when is it revoked. I would hate to see this bill with very important good intentions setting precedents that could see law suits for Africa.
An example if the anti smacking law in New Zealand. It worked out very well in the end, I think. Abuse still happens of course, but now children have more rights, they have been tested and there is common awareness of the legislation.
The problem is that most people today carry one or more devices which can be tracked very easily by their friends, family, employer, application owners and more. At which point does that tracking or the use of information derived from being able to track someone’s location, or behaviour as inferred by their location become crime?
What happens if tracking is granted (say by the parent for a child) who is going to spend a weekend with friends. Now the child is of legal age, but the app, buddy finder, where’s my phone or perhaps a fleet management vehicle tracking system, is still in use. Let’s say that the young adult is estranged from their family and finds that a parent is still tracking them and has in some way interfered with their life, by having tracked them. Did they still have implied permission.
I have at least a dozen applications on my phone that use the GPS with my permission to provide services. At what point does that use become criminal? Do the License Agreements and Terms & Conditions protect me from ‘criminal use’ or does it absolve them of any responsibility? Do you read the T&C on all of your apps? Developers of apps usually have access to information. Many apps know more about our behaviour than our friends do. Do those rights ever get abused? Damn right they do, just as in the past people in telephone exchanges would innocently give out contact details or people who had a friend on the force might get a QP check done on their daughter’s latest boyfriend that they were concerned about.
Today with the Internet of Things and every device from my car to my wristwatch having GPS tracking and communications capability, I have concerns that enforcing the law can be difficult. There are likely to be many test cases and companies providing services such as GPS tracking devices, or applications could easily risk charges through uses of the technology they were not intended for.
What applications do you have on your mobile that use the GPS? Which ‘friends’ currently have implied access rights to your location information? Which people who are no longer your friends, still have access to your location via GPS?