Former Naval Officer Caught Stalking Woman With GPS Tracking

gps tracking legalSentencing was delayed yesterday for a man who recently plead guilty to cyberstalking a woman in San Diego, CA.

According to court documents, the ex-Navy man, Michael Lutz, made hundreds of calls to a woman’s telephone and tracked her through GPS tracking technology after she made clear their relationship was over. He once chased the victim throughout a shopping mall, followed her into a women’s bathroom and climbed under a locked stall to confront her.

Lutz made hundreds of calls to the victim, tracked her with GPS tracking technology on her phone, and illegally downloaded a program onto her computer that allowed him to spy on her Internet use, according to prosecutors.

Lutz also created a Facebook profile in the name and image of another person so he could continue interacting with the unsuspecting victim, who had obtained a restraining order against him, prosecutors said.

Lutz faces up to five years in prison. Yesterday at a hearing, U.S. District Judge Larry Burns questioned whether a psychological evaluation might be appropriate for Lutz.

Lutz was in the Navy, stationed in San Diego, at the time of the cyberstalking but has since left the military.

GPS Tracking Technology and Privacy

This case is a reminder of a largely hidden cost from the proliferation of sophisticated GPS tracking technology in everyday life—a loss of privacy. Global-positioning systems, called GPS, and other technologies used by phone companies have unexpectedly made it easier for abusers to track their victims. A U.S. Justice Department report last year estimated that more than 25,000 adults in the U.S. are victims of GPS stalking annually, including by cellphone.

In the online world, consumers who surf the Internet unintentionally surrender all kinds of personal information to marketing firms that use invisible tracking technology to monitor online activity. A Wall Street Journal investigation of the 50 most-popular U.S. websites found that most are placing intrusive tracking technologies on the computers of visitors—in some cases, more than 100 tracking tools at a time.