ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - A new law to prevent stalking could soon be in the books in Florida.
Domestic violence advocates said it has become too easy to track a person’s every move, and that could be dangerous in volatile relationships.
Advocates working against domestic violence in central Florida said laws meant to protect victims have failed to keep up with technology.
In Florida, residents do not need someone’s consent to install a small tracking device on a car, or to install an app to track someone though a smartphone.
And it’s not just legal, but easy, experts said.
Channel 9’s Nancy Alvarez put it to the test.
Alvarez had her photographer track her from the newsroom through downtown Orlando.
Her photographer saw where Alvarez stopped for lunch and tracked her as she drove back to the newsroom, by installing an app on her phone and hiding the icon in a folder full of other apps where it could go unnoticed.
That’s why Harbor House CEO Carol Wick and victim advocates across the state are keeping a close eye on a bill that would make it illegal to track someone using a device or an app without their knowledge.
“It’s really kind of scary and I think most people didn’t realize it’s not illegal in Florida,” Wick said.
Under the bill, there would be exceptions related to law enforcement, families using technology to track their children or the elderly and anyone doing it for legitimate business reasons.
The goal is to prevent stalking and Wick said it could help stop domestic violence cases from ending in tragedy.
“In 80 percent of intimate partner violence or homicides, the person was stalked before they were killed,” Wick said. “And a lot of people say, ‘Oh they won’t leave me alone.’ That’s stalking and it’s a sign it’s escalating and your life is in danger.”
Wick said there is now technology that allows apps to be installed remotely without a person’s knowledge.
If someone consents to using a tracking device with their spouse or partner before a break-up, the law said that agreement would automatically be voided if a restraining order is issued.