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A tracking app is
|“||a computer program and location-based service that consists of two parts. One part is installed on the smartphone of the person being tracked; that part accesses and tracks the device's location and transmits that information. The second part is installed on a computer or another smartphone and is used by the person doing the tracking to receive the transmitted location data and see where the tracked person is or has been over a period of time. The installation of a tracking app on a smartphone can require physical access to the smartphone being tracked.||”|
Applicable laws Edit
Several federal laws may be relevant to the issue of tracking apps. These laws include:
- The federal wiretap statute (Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, Tit. 1: This law makes it illegal, among other things, for an individual to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications unless an exception applies, such as one of the parties to the communication has consented to the interception. It also makes it illegal to manufacture, sell, or advertise a device knowing that it is primarily intended for surreptitious interception of communications. This is both a civil and a criminal statute, providing individuals with a private right of action and DOJ with authority to enforce criminal violations of the statute.
- Section 5 of the FTC Act: The core consumer-protection authority in section 5 of the FTC Act enables FTC to bring cases against individuals and companies that it determines have engaged in Unfair acts or practices or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. FTC can seek injunctive relief in an administrative proceeding or in federal court. FTC may seek monetary relief in the form of restitution and disgorgement of a defendant's proceeds from the alleged unfair or deceptive acts or practices, but may not seek civil penalties under Section 5.
- Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986: This law makes it illegal for an individual to access a protected computer without or exceeding authorization, among other things. Federal courts have found that smartphones are considered computers under the Act. This is both a civil and a criminal statute, providing individuals with a private right of action and DOJ with authority to enforce criminal violations of the statute.
- The federal stalking statute: This is a criminal statute, enforced by DOJ, that prohibits individuals from using electronic communications systems or services for stalking purposes, among other things. The statute was most recently amended by the Violence against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA). VAWA includes provisions pertaining to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.