Much-Needed Location Privacy Legislation Introduced in House and Senate
WASHINGTON - A bill was introduced today both in the House and Senate that would protect Americans’ geolocation data from being obtained by law enforcement without a warrant. Geolocation, or tracking, data is used to locate individuals and can be derived from GPS devices or cellphones – even when turned off. These devices hold detailed information on Americans’ locations, and gathering that information without any warrants or oversight is currently a pervasive law enforcement practice.
The bill, the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, which was introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would protect both historical and real-time location data. It would also mandate that private telecommunications companies obtain their customers’ consent before collecting location data.
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The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office:
“Whether they realize it or not, Americans are carrying tracking devices with them wherever they go. Whether they visit a therapist, liquor store, church or gun range, Americans’ activities are often available to law enforcement in real-time or even months after the fact. Tracking our locations and movements without warrants or probable cause is a massive privacy violation. With unclear standards to regulate the collection of this information, our Fourth Amendment rights are left largely unprotected. This bill is a welcome step toward guarding some of our most private information and we hope both the House and Senate make its passage a priority.”
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