Bills would require police to get warrants for mobile phone location

21. März 2013
A group of U.S. lawmakers has introduced legislation that would require law enforcement agencies to get court-ordered search warrants before obtaining a suspect's mobile phone location or GPS data, instead of using prosecution-issued subpoenas.

Senators Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and Mark Kirk, an Illinois Republican, introduced the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act in the Senate Thursday, while Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, and eight other congressmen introduced the same bill in the House of Representatives.

Several privacy and civil liberties groups praised the introduction of the bill. Wyden and Chaffetz introduced similar bills in 2011, but that legislation did not pass.

"New technologies are making it increasingly easy to track and log the location of individuals," Chaffetz said in a statement. "Put simply, the government and law enforcement should not be able to track somebody indefinitely without their knowledge or consent or without obtaining a warrant from a judge."

The sponsors of the bills say various court jurisdictions have conflicting standards and procedures for police to gather GPS and mobile location information.

"GPS technology has evolved into a useful commercial and law enforcement tool but the rules for the use of that tool have not evolved along with it," Wyden said in a statement. "The GPS Act provides law enforcement with a clear mandate for when to obtain a warrant for the geolocation information of an American. It also provides much-needed legal clarity for commercial service providers who often struggle to balance the privacy of their customers with requests for information from law enforcement."

Zur Startseite