COLUMBUS, Ohio — Proponents of an Ohio bill that would outlaw unwanted electronic tracking with devices like Apple AirTags testified Tuesday at an Ohio Senate committee hearing for Senate Bill 100.
One of the witnesses who spoke was Kar'mell Triplett, 23, of Akron, the subject of a 3News Investigates report last year, which uncovered a gap in Ohio's laws that makes such electronic tracking legal.
Triplett traveled to Columbus to testify before members of the Ohio Senate Financial Institutions and Technology committee, which held its second hearing on SB100, since it was introduced earlier month by Senator Nathan Manning (R-North Ridgeville) and Senator Nickie Antonio (D-Lakewood).
SB100 is a direct result of WKYC's advocacy efforts to lobby for bipartisan legislation, following a 3News Investigates report last year.
"Please, I urge you to protect us," Triplett urged senators, as she recalled her own terror in 2021, when she received a surprise notification on her iPhone that an unknown AirTag had been tracking her every move for hours. Triplett drove immediately to the Akron Police Department, where officers found the AirTag in a plastic bag and attached under her car's bumper with a magnet.
Triplett suspected an ex-boyfriend, whom she says had threatened her and vowed to find her. He was never criminally charged.
"That was the day I had to buy a gun," said Triplett, her voice breaking with emotion. "I was 21-years-old. I was so scared. I had never been to a shooting range. I never thought I'd have to protect myself, because the laws in place wouldn't do that for me."
"I didn't know if that was because I needed to be brutally beaten first. I didn't know what had to occur for the law to intervene," Triplett testified.
3News Investigates found that Ohio's laws do not do enough to protect victims like Triplett. The current stalking statute requires a pattern of behavior, meaning a history of two or more instances of stalking.
However for perpetrators who are just getting started, prosecutors do not have the ability to pursue charges.
A 3News analysis found 19 states with specific laws against unwanted electronic tracking, but not Ohio.
SB 100 would generally outlaw electronic tracking without consent, with exceptions for law enforcement, parents, and caregivers. A similar bill in the Ohio House, HB 91, was also introduced last month by Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville).
A representative from the Ohio Prosecutors Association also testified Tuesday in support of SB100, which would make violations a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.