Wyden and Chaffetz reintroduce GPS tracking bill

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A bill introduced in the House (H.R. 1312) and the Senate (S. 639) March 21 would raise the standard for accessing geolocation information from mobile devices by law enforcement to that of a warrant.

The bill, sponsored in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and in the House by Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), would carve out a warrant exception for GPS tracking done under authorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and in cases of emergencies such as immediate danger of death or serious injury, or "conspiratorial activities" that threaten national security or are characteristic of organized crime.

Wyden's office, in a statement, noted that courts in different jurisdictions have applied existing law regarding GPS tracking through cell phones inconsistently. The Obama administration has argued for the warrantless GPS on the basis of the third party doctrine, which holds that Fourth Amendment protection disappears after information is disclosed to someone else, such as the cell phone provider.

The American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement it supports the bill. The bill's introduction marks a second attempt at its passage; Wyden and Chaffetz introduced the same bill in 2011 but in neither chamber did it advance beyond committee.

For more:
- go to the THOMAS page for H.R. 1312
- go to the THOMAS page for S. 639
- read statements from Wyden and Chaffetz and also from Sen. Ron Kirk (R-Ill.), a co-sponsor

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