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.
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.”