New Bill Introduced To Outlaw GPS Tracking Without Consent

from the oh-big-brother dept

We've been noting, over the past few years, the growing number of lawsuits involving the legality of law enforcement tracking people's movements with GPS devices. There are some mixed and contradictory rulings, which means it'll all likely hit the Supreme Court at some point, but a new bill in the Senate from Ron Wyden and in the House from Rep. Jason Chaffetz apparently seeks to do an end-run around all of that and have Congress clarify the law by saying it's illegal to track that kind of data without a warrant. The bill using yet another "cute" acronym is the "Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act" -- or the GPS Act. Get it?

I do wonder if some of the prohibitions on "intercepting" such information go too far -- though there is a "normal course of business" exception in the law. The key focus of the bill really seems on law enforcement, and requiring them to take the not-at-all-onerous step of first getting a warrant. This is eminently reasonable, but you can bet that law enforcement is going to go ballistic about how this bill will "harm" investigations and put people at risk. Get ready for the fear mongering... Update: The bill is to be introduced next week, and there may be some changes from the current draft I was basing this on...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    weneedhelp (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:29am

    Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    But but but...
    Terrorists
    Porn
    Children

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Dark Helmet (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:35am

    Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    Fast food
    Nazis
    Very small rocks....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    KnownHuman (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:49am

    enough with names

    I want to introduce legislation that mandates laws be introduced with numbers based on a logical schema so that bad legislation (looking at you, US PATRIOT Act) can't be introduced in a manner that works against detractors in campaign ads.

    I wonder, if I call it the "I Love America Act" if anyone would vote against it?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:52am

    Given recent history this should not hinder the federal government at all. They will either interpret the law to make it meaningless or just ignore it if they find that more convenient. And the courts will say that they are hesitant to hinder the war on terrorism and once again throw the Constitution and Bill of Rights under the bus.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Guidence, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:00am

    Laws inhibiting law enfocement?-not!

    Warrentless survailence creates more police distrust and fear. There is that amendment against illegal search and seizure.
    May you have more freedom, security, and privacy than our founding fathers could have imagined

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:16am

    Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    Churches!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    Muffin button.

    Now that that's done. I liked it better when I thought it required consent. While requiring a warrant is good, consent covers all the bases inside and outside the government.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    A.R.M. (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    "The bill using yet another "cute" acronym is the "Geolocational Privacy and Surveillance Act" -- or the GPS Act. Get it?"
    GROOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAN.

    That was over the "Get it" remark as, for some reason, I felt like I was a 5th grader competing on a game show.

    Get it?

    Fun aside, I do have to say acronyms help. I prefer the "GPS Act" over "SB 1324 Part II, Subsection 3" any day of the week.
    :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    rubberpants, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:37am

    Response to: A.R.M. on Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:25am

    I think having the bills named after the (primary) rep who introduces the bill plus an incrementing number. For example, a bill to give RIAA lobbiests just what they want might be called The Orin Hatch 322 Act.

    Or even better, name the bill after the company that gets the biggest benefit from it along with what they are getting. Unfortunately, no Senator would be ashamed to vote for the Comcast Monopoly 14 Act.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    ts, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:57am

    Re: enough with names

    I totally agree with this. Your "I Love America Act" could repeal all of the Bill of Rights.. yet people would still vote for it because voting against it would mean you don't love America.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    ShellMG, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:58am

    Automatic Consent

    Since the feds have mandated that all new cars will have "black boxes," does that mean they get to assume consent is given when the car is purchased, or will buyers need to sign a HIPPA-like agreement?

    Geez, maybe I'll stick with my 2001 Caravan a lot longer than I intended.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    A Dan (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:06am

    Re:

    At least this acronym and name are descriptive and not confusing, misleading, or loaded.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Ummmm

    "Get ready for the fear mongering..."

    Don't you mean TERRORISM ???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Josef Anvil (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:23am

    Ummmm

    "Get ready for the fear mongering..."

    Don't you mean TERRORISM ???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Jimr (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:26am

    Cell phones with GPS

    I guess all new cell phone contract will now include a clause that will grant them consent to use your GPS information to track you. Yea GPS data is nice for cell companies as if they know your location AND direction/speed they can better facility tower switch.

    Is there an automatic exception as it related to the Patriot Act (and home land security)?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Greg G (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    A duck!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    OK it's a fair cop...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    OC, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    Paper clips
    A dolphin
    Neil Young

    I don't understand this game. Did I win?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 9:47am

    GPS

    I'd like to introduce a bill to outlaw electing techno-morons to public office.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Bergman, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    Kittens
    Bonsai Trees
    Nerf

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 10:33am

    Re: Re: Re: Get ready for the fear mongering - ill start

    A recipe for a million views on Youtube.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    icon
    Jay (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Re: GPS

    We wouldn't have Congress at all.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    identicon
    Ryan82, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re:

    Yes, that sounds about right.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    Kevin Bankston, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:42pm

    the headline is incorrect--the bill had not yet been introduced

    Hi Mike--Thanks for the story on this interesting and important issue. However, just to be clear, the bill has not been introduced. As the Hill story that you link to indicates, it is expected to be introduced next week. The draft of the bill that is currently available is just that, a draft.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    identicon
    Kevin Bankston, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

    Also: the bill is to be introduced in both Senate and House...

    ...and Mr. Chaffetz will be the sponsor in the House. The current phrasing implies that he is a Senator (and/or that the bill will only be offered in the Senate).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 4:42pm

    Re: the headline is incorrect--the bill had not yet been introduced

    Still... it's more backassed evolution from the all mighty failing US of fail.. I mean A.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:27pm

    won't matter..

    they will still go ahead and use gps tracking. The federal spooks don't give a rats tushie about laws of any kind.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Thomas (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:33pm

    Re: Laws inhibiting law enfocement?-not!

    They do this and then the police/spooks wonder why no one trusts them. I'm very careful to avoid the police when I'm in the city, even though I have had no contact with the police in many years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    Mike Kevitt, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 6:47pm

    GPS tracking by the authorities

    Sorry, but I don't see, or know of, any reason for principled opposition to GPS tracking by the authorities. The 4th. Amendment doesn't apply, here. For one thing, it's not a search of one's person or property, and it doesn't necessarily enter into one's property or touch one's person. It's no different than following you in a squad car for a while, having sensed you visually, the eye being a thoroughly passive sensing device. But, not knowing the technology of GPS enough, I think it might involve sending signals into one's property or onto one's person if it's not a thoroughly passive technology. If it does, then that method of tracking is out, without a warrant, on principle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Mark Matis, Jun 8th, 2011 @ 7:40pm

    Why Would Anyone...

    think the pigs would comply with this law even if it WAS passed?

    The only good pig...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    Bill Aimed At Something That Is Already Happening?

    There is plenty of speculation in the telecom industry that this Bill is being proposed to specifically prohibit some things that are already happening.

    The Bill is put forward by Senators with Top Secret clearance, who are/may be aware that the government is already using provisions in the Patriot Act to skirt around the Fourth Amendment and track citizens without Reasonable Cause.

    While these legislators cannot publicly discuss whatever top secret surveillance is currently occurring, they CAN propose a law that would prevent it.

    There cannot be any proof of what I am saying, but I believe it to be likely. Either way, citizens need to be clear to our government, and demand a law that specifically requires a warrant to track the motions of innocent citizens. I hope this Bill goes through.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Jun 8th, 2011 @ 8:55pm

    Re: GPS tracking by the authorities

    "It's no different than following you in a squad car for a while, having sensed you visually, the eye being a thoroughly passive sensing device."

    IT is very different. There is a substantial cost to actually following you in a squad car. They would not undergo that cost without some suspicion of guilt. That action, in business terms, "does not scale" at all. Also, there is a very clear "tell" in that there is marked squad car following you.

    In the case of phone-based location surveillance, technology is (or will rapidly advance) at the point where your government could basically just monitor everyone because the price is so low. Consider it similar to the way Google monitors every web site, and even stores a cache copy of it.

    If given the option, the government WOULD choose to do so. Why? Not because they want to look at every person in the country, and analyze their motions, but because they can build an amazing data repertoire, and MINE it for patterns.

    If I suspect Mullah Osama of plotting terrorism, and I have tracked his phone for a year, then what happens if I mine the database for his know accomplices, and see when all those phones are in the same place. Now I have a good guess as to where they meet. Now, let's mine the dB to see who else is in that location at those key times. OK, that gives us other suspects in the terror cell. That all sounds awesome if we're busting up terror cells, but to do this requires they gather the data on ALL OF US. Basically, we are ALL SUSPECTS, all the time.

    There will be false positives, for sure, and that would be a direct problem if they arrest you because you are an Iranian immigrant, and you go to the library every Tuesday at 6 for English tutoring, just when Mullah Osama and his band meet in the fiction section.

    But, really, it is much worse. Once the government has that dB, is it really secure from hackers? Will some Department of the government try to use it beyond the scope originally promised? Would someone use it to root out people doing entirely legal activities that of which they simply disapproved? Could a Joe McCarthy-type of person ever exist, and rise to a position of power, and abuse that power? Of course the answer is no, so we can all just relax and stop worrying.

    Remember the old mobile Internet promise, the Internet: any device, any place, any time? Well, just change that to surveillance of you: all devices, all places, all the time.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Mike Kevitt, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 1:33am

    Re: Re: GPS tracking by the authorities

    RE back to Derek Kerton: It appears the only solution to the things you cite is to tear down the Internet and roll back all the hi-tech., and go back to the old technology and stay there. It's my bet you don't think that, and that the appearance I cite is wrong. How 'bout this? Computers, hardware and software are one thing, and the Internet is something else. Can't the cops gather data from the Internet and store their db. offline, analyse it offline, get more data online, analyse it offline and maybe even delete useless data from its offline db.? Can anybody hack into offline data? Maybe I'm showing an immense technological ignorance with that question, but I'll chance that. If that can be done, it's better than going back to old tech. As for the government knowing everything about everybody, in an actually free country, if that really did happen, so what?, as long as any person or entity doesn't initiate physical force anywhere against any other person or entity. In such a country, despite whatever it knows about whom, the government can go after only initiators of force, that is, it can go after only criminals. The subject of just what a "free" country is, is a big subject. Here, I'll just say it's where the government does but one thing: Take effective responsive physical force against initiatory physical force, that is, against crime.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Jeni (profile), Jun 9th, 2011 @ 5:40am

    Re: Bill Aimed At Something That Is Already Happening?

    "Basically, we are ALL SUSPECTS, all the time."

    Exactly, Derek! It is difficult to comprehend that anyone can just "be okay" with this. This is pure insanity.

    To the "this is okay" people; wait until you're accused of something you're totally innocent of just because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time - but LEO says you're guilty so that's that. You're diddled.

    After all, they all say, "But I didn't do it!"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    GPS Tracking System, Jun 9th, 2011 @ 8:48am

    Vehicle Tracking

    If we outlaw GPS tracking technology we might as well outlaw surveillance cameras and voice recorders since they all pretty much infringe on the same privacy rights....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Burt Fisher, Jun 15th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    What does the bill purport to do> Prohibit the reception of the signal from the GPS satellite? That wouldn't do any good. Maybe the bill should simply keep it illegal for unreasonable searches and seizures.

    A GPS receiver does nothing more than receive a radio signal from outer space and calculate where the receiver is. The part that bothers me is the added surveillance portion that radios that information to the voyeurs. That is the part that should be illegal, just like it would be illegal for the cops to listen in on my private conversations.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This