Will law enforcement agencies and police in the United States be required to seek a warrant before gathering your GPS location data? An amendment is being introduced Monday that would remove ambiguity in a cybersecurity bill.
Last summer, Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden and Utah Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz introduced a bipartisan bill titled the Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance (GPS) Act, a piece of legislation that would give public departments, private citizens and businesses a legal framework as to how and when geolocation information can be accessed and utilized.
Wyden is now offering a GPS Act amendment to the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 (CSA2012). It would require law enforcement agencies to seek a warrant prior to obtaining location information from an individual’s laptop, mobile device and any other electronic gadge.
Coinciding with Wyden’s calls for a digital bill of rights, the legislation would make it clear as to how much evidence authorities need to track someone and access information regarding their whereabouts. Furthermore, it would give commercial establishments an answer as to how to respond to information requests from law enforcement and police.
With the upcoming August recess in the congress and the presidential campaign underway, Wyden plans to introduce an amendment sometime Monday to the CSA2012, which originally included a “kill switch” provision that would give the president authority to shut off the Internet nationwide. It was championed by Independent Senator Joseph Lieberman.
“Because the law has not kept up with the pace of innovation, it makes sense to include the GPS Act’s requirement that law enforcement obtain a warrant for GPS tracking in the Cybersecurity Act. This will protect Americans’ location information from misuse,” said Wyden in a written statement.
“Part of the goal of the cybersecurity legislation is to update rules for information collection and privacy for the digital age, which is what the GPS Act is all about.”
He also argues the co-sponsored GPS Act would eliminate the ambiguity and provide specificities and clear up any confusion since last month’s ruling by the Supreme Court. It ruled that police need a warrant before attaining a car’s GPS. However, it didn’t give a concise answer as to if police need a warrant to track someone using other geolocation units.
This week, the Senate plans to restart debate over the CSA bill after two years it initiated talks over the substance of the legislation. If passed in the Senate, it will likely be signed by President Barack Obama, who supports it.