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June 09, 2014 10:09 PM

New Bill Aims To Stop Stalker Apps

Sioux Falls, SD

They're being called "stalker apps"-- new smartphone applications that allow you to locate people through their phone without them knowing it.

While some of these locator apps are being used by parents for their children, they can also be used by people who are looking to hurt you.

Lawmakers are now looking at ways to stop this potentially-dangerous technology.

So-called "stalker apps" are usually marketed as a way to connect with family and friends. But they can also be geared towards people with a more sinister purpose.

There have already been national stories about stalkers finding and assaulting victims using these apps.

"In most of these cases, the perpetrator was arrested because it's illegal to stalk someone. It's not clearly illegal to make and market and to sell a stalking app. So nothing happened to the companies making money off of the stalking," Senator Al Franken said. 

Franken is proposing a bill that would make it illegal for companies to gather and share someone's location without their consent.

Right now, apps like "Connect" or "Girls Around Me" collect data from sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find where you are and share it with people on the app without you knowing.

"It's just scary and they can seek them out in ways that they weren't able to before. And so it really takes away that sense of safety that those victims may have ever felt," Amy Carter, Operations Director at the Children's Inn, said.  

Carter with the Children's Inn of Sioux Falls says this kind of privacy violation can endanger victims of abuse.

"The abuser can find someone who is trying to hide from them and stay safe away from them. Often times the victim doesn't even know that that person is able to find them, or is even stalking them in that way," Carter said. 

Carter says if you think you're being stalked, you should tell family, co-workers and close friends so everyone is on the look-out for any suspicious signs.

"In the form of a text. In the form of an email. Showing up where you always are when that person has no need to be there. You know, anything like that can be considered stalking. Harassing phone calls. All of that. There's many ways that it can look," Carter said.

Carter says if you do feel like you're being stalked, write down every incident with the potential stalker and contact police if you feel at all in danger.

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