Here's part of a post on TechDirt about a lawsuit against Foxtrax Vehicle Tracking filed on behalf of a victim of domestic violence:
It sounds as though the guy put the tracking device on the woman's car in order to stalk her. It's difficult to think that anyone could find the company liable here for the actions of the guy. I'm sure it's upsetting that the guy was able to track her, and she has every right to press all sorts of charges against the guy. But the GPS tracking company was merely the technology provider.The person who wrote this is making a biased claim designed to eliminate accountability for companies which provide services which can clearly be used by people with criminal intent. The defense of the company merely being a technology provider isn't a logical defense. A company that provides technology can and should be held responsible for the choices made by the company or by company employees. Technology is not a free pass from all responsibilities.
The claim made on TechDirt is that this company is being sued "not because they have any actual liability, but because they have money." This is not a statement of fact it is an allegation. The author of the post has assumed that the civil case has no merit and uses the satirical cartoon Bloom County as proof while completely ignoring the real issues raised in the source story.
Companies must be required to act with due diligence related to predictable risks related to their products and services. If due diligence isn't required in this case then it must not be required of any company. Further, civil courts and other branches of the government should stay out of product recalls and we should describe all injuries and deaths which happen through the use of any product as merely "upsetting."
Here are more details about the lawsuit which has been filed using anonymous names for the man who used the GPS tracking service to stalk and for the victim of domestic violence because of safety issues.
The lawsuit claims a Missouri company, Foxtrax Vehicle Tracking Inc., aided and abetted "Jack Doe" to commit assault and battery on "Jane Doe" in 2008, including while she was seven months pregnant. The suit does not state so specifically, but implies that Jack Doe installed a tracking device on Jane Doe's vehicle.The allegations that the company was informed that their service was being used to track someone against their will is a key allegation which the post on TechDirt ignored. If they were notified that their service was being used as a tool of domestic violence then they must be liable for the choices made by company employees in response to that notification.
The civil complaint, filed this week in Milwaukee County Circuit Court, names Jack Doe, Foxtrax and "as yet unidentified co-conspirators" as defendants. It says Jane and Jack Doe had a domestic partnership that began in March 2007, and that he was abusive and threatening toward her, "for the sole purpose of restraining the liberty and freedom of movement" of Jane Doe.[...]
The lawsuit also claims that Foxtrax at some point was notified of the situation involving Jane Doe, "but refused to discontinue aiding and abetting" Jack Doe, "purely for the sake of profit."
The excuse that a company is merely providing the technology and therefore has no liability for the harm done with the help of their technology must be rejected. Due diligence must be required even if the product is technology.