The government on Friday adopted a bill designed to prevent through law the abuse of GPS monitoring devices for stalking.
The bill to revise the law on stalking is also aimed at criminalizing the collection of location information from targets through new means expected to become available as technology develops.
The government plans to submit the bill, which was adopted at a Cabinet meeting, to the ongoing session of the Diet.
The bill calls for criminalizing the installation of GPS monitoring devices without consent from targets and the collection of location information without permission through such items as smartphone apps that belong to targets.
The bill uses the expression “equipment that records and sends location information” when referring to GPS devices so that the use of future technologies to collect such information for stalking can be regulated without needing to revise the law.
If stalkers obtain location information by using devices attached to targets’ belongings, such as their cars, they could be arrested before receiving an order to stop stalking under the revised law, according to the National Police Agency.
The bill also calls for the scope of locations subject to the law to be expanded, to include the current locations of targets in addition to their homes and workplaces, both of which are covered by the existing law. In some cases stalkers have been able to identify real-time locations of targets by using social media posts.
An act of sending letters to targets continuously will also be criminalized under the revised law.
If the bill is enacted, the use of GPS monitoring devices will be regulated starting from three months after the revised law is promulgated. The expansion of the scope of locations subject to the law and the prohibition on sending letters will be enforced 20 days after the promulgation.
In July last year, the Supreme Court said that use of a GPS device to obtain information about a target did not constitute a stalking activity banned by the anti-stalking law.
In a recommendation in January this year, a panel of experts created by the NPA following the top court ruling underlined the need to regulate the abuse of GPS devices for stalking.
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