The Power of One

A Citizen Changes the Cyber Laws

By J.P. Faber

November 2019

The case is now settled, but for months Coral Gables resident Grace Carricarte was cyber stalked by someone who hacked her home security system, including its in-house camera system, and infiltrated her email accounts. According to Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, when Carricarte tried to defend herself, she found that Florida’s laws against stalking in person didn’t apply to the online version of that crime. “Florida criminal law has not completely kept up with the emerging technology, and Grace’s circumstance highlighted a very important gap in what the law addressed,” Rundle said. “There was no law explicitly on the books that covers accessing home security, surveillance and smart devices belonging to someone else without their permission.’” In what amounted to record time, Rundle got the Florida legislature to upgrade the anti-stalking statutes to include up-to-date definitions of what it means to “cyberstalk.” The result was a cause for celebration at Carricarte’s home last month, when the new law that Rundle crafted went into effect. Also present was Coral Gables Police Chief Ed Hudak.

“It was amazing that [Rundle] had that law amended and passed in such a short time,” Hudak said. “And the fact that Grace turned a very devastating incident into something life saving for the rest of Florida was incredible. Before, we could make the arrest, but we couldn’t prosecute. We couldn’t go forward.”